Corona is currently dominating our lives, and unfortunately it will continue to do so for some time. Our city is also being hit hard. I would like to wish a swift recovery to all those who are ill and I would like to offer my sincere sympathies to those who have lost loved ones.
Corona affects us all. Anyone can be infected, and anyone can spread the virus: young and old, black and white, Muslim and Christian, men and women. Our elderly and weak are the most vulnerable and we all need to help and protect them.
The coming weeks are crucial. This letter explains the most important new national measures plus the extra measures that apply in our city and the region.
I would like to make an urgent appeal to you:
Whenever possible, stay indoors!
As you know, we need to do this together to ensure that our hospitals – and in particular our intensive care units – remain able to cope, and as few people as possible get ill.
Please stay indoors whenever possible, unless you have no other option. You can go outside for work, to do your shopping, or for a short walk in the fresh air.
- Children under the age of 12 can play outside.
- For all young people and adults: keep 1.5 metres apart, wherever you are and whatever you do.
- Gathering in groups of three or more people is not permitted, unless you are members of the same household. By a group, the government means 3 or more people who are not keeping 1.5 metres apart.
Shops that are still open must take measures to ensure everyone stays 1.5 metres apart. If this is not happening, the authorities can take action. The same rule applies to public transport.
Hairdressers and those in other ‘contact professions’, such as manicurists, beauticians and tattooists, are not allowed to practice their profession until 6 April at the earliest. Physiotherapists must work ‘as far as possible’ via video calls. And casinos are now also subject to the same rules as cafes and restaurants.
All public events are cancelled until 1 June. King’s Day on 27 April, Remembrance Day on 4 May and Liberation Day on 5 May will not take place in the usual, familiar way.
Religious gatherings attended by more than 30 people are no longer allowed. This includes funerals and weddings. Because of the constitutional freedom of religion, religious gatherings can still be attended by more than three people.
However, for public health reasons I would strongly discourage all religious groups from holding such gatherings, much as I understand the need for comfort and support.
I am grateful that the vast majority of mosques, synagogues and churches have already switched to online services, and I would appeal to everyone to continue to do so. It is vital that wherever possible we avoid meeting each other physically.
The maximum of 30 people also applies to funerals and weddings.
Additional regional measures
There are places where we see too many people coming together. Central government has given the regional authorities powers to take additional measures where necessary. On the basis of these powers, I am adding a number of measures for the Amsterdam-Amstelland region:
Only food may be sold on markets. Markets will thus remain an important element of our food supply chain. Stalls selling non-food goods will temporarily disappear from markets, creating more space.
Exercise equipment areas in parks are closed
In many parks, visitors are free to use public exercise equipment. Under normal circumstances, these are places for people to keep fit. Now they are a health risk, because the equipment is not cleaned, and the areas attract several people at once, so it can be hard for people to stay 1.5 metres apart.
Cruyff Courts and football cages are closed
Under normal circumstances, these places are valuable to the public. Sport brings people together and keeps us fit. However, based on recent observations, the City of Amsterdam sees football and basketball cages as places where there is a risk of spreading the corona virus. This is true both during the day, if too many young people play sports in a small area, and in the evening, if people gather there in groups and are too close together.
For the time being, playgrounds and more than 700 unfenced public sports fields will remain open.
Sports fields and parks
All managed sports fields such as those used by sports clubs have already been closed for several weeks. Despite these closures, many people are using the sports fields for recreation. Because this often means that there are too many people too close together, enforcement on sports fields will now be intensified.
CCTV may be installed in areas where there are concerns about persistent overcrowding. If necessary, additional measures will also be taken in these locations.
Our police and enforcement officers will issue fines if the rules are not observed. If you don’t keep the safe distance of 1.5 metres, you could face a heavy fine.
I would like to express my sincere appreciation for the people working in healthcare, the emergency services, local public services, cleaning, the media, supermarkets, and everywhere else that necessary work is being carried out. In very difficult and sometimes frightening times, you are keeping our country going, and you deserve the greatest respect.
To all those who live in nursing and care homes in Amsterdam and the region and who are no longer allowed to receive visitors, I would like to say that we are thinking of you.
Together we can help to combat loneliness among the people of Amsterdam. From Friday, you will be able to access the online platform WijAmsterdam, where the municipality is collecting all the social initiatives in the city. If you would you like to help someone, or if you need help yourself, I invite you to visit this website. Corona is contagious, but so is human kindness.
I would like to commend everyone in Amsterdam for properly observing the government measures. There will come a time when we can all go out again and celebrate the postponed birthdays, weddings and other festive occasions. Let us look forward to that. Until then, please hold on, help each other, and remind each other of the measures we all need to take, so that we can get through this difficult time together.
I wish you all the very best.
Mayor of Amsterdam and chair of the board of the Amsterdam-Amstelland emergency services (Veiligheidsregio Amsterdam-Amstelland)
To keep informed, see www.RIVM.nl/en and www.amsterdam.nl
From 27 March 2020: to support Amsterdammers or ask for help, see wijamsterdam.nl