Amsterdam limits access to Vondelpark to control crowds and prevent parties
After an evening of mild weather turned into a party in Amsterdam’s Vondelpark on Wednesday, mayor Femke Halsema and the local police have decided to close off several of the park’s entrances and increase police presence to limit crowds.
Thousands gather for party in Vondelpark
On Wednesday evening, parks in Amsterdam, Tilburg and Groningen had to be cleared out by police after large crowds had gathered to make the most of the sunny weather. Amsterdam’s iconic Vondelpark was one such park, after the municipality’s call on the public to “enjoy the weather close to home” and return to the park at another time.
Thousands of people had gathered for a spontaneous party, with one person telling local news station AT5: “Sorry, but I think it's deserved. It's not allowed, but we'll do it anyway. Because I think they should do something for us. This really is not possible. They can't leave us at home. We get depressed.”
Police managed to clear the park by 7.30pm after some members of the public started to pelt officers with empty bottles. Two people were arrested.
Amsterdam mayor threatens to close off park completely
Halsema called the crowds “a massive violation of the coronavirus rules,” writing in a statement: “Those present show no respect whatsoever for anyone in the city who is doing their best to prevent more infections."
Following a discussion with the Amsterdam police and the Public Prosecution Service, the mayor decided to enforce a so-called cooling-off period, closing off the side entrances to the park and placing officers at the two main entrances to supervise activity and monitor the number of people going in and out of the park. It is not yet known how long these measures will remain in place, but if they fail to have any effect, Vondelpark will be completely closed off to the public.
Parties across the Netherlands - should the government reopen terraces?
Similar issues arose in Tilburg’s Spoorpark after hundreds of “young people and students” gathered there on Wednesday evening. The local municipality has closed off the park and is looking into which measures can be taken to prevent excessive crowds in the future.
In Utrecht, crowds also gathered in the Wilheminapark, Griftpark and Lepelenburg. At around 6pm, police officers asked everyone to leave. In Groningen, a number of people also had to be removed from Noorderplantsoen.
These various events across the Netherlands can only serve to place further pressure on the Dutch government to lift more coronavirus restrictions and perhaps allow for the reopening of outdoor terraces. The House of Representatives (Tweede Kamer) was already calling on the cabinet to reopen terraces, as it would allow for the public to enjoy the weather in a more controlled environment.