Face masks made mandatory in certain areas of major Dutch cities
Face masks in Amsterdam
The rule will come into effect on August 5 in Amsterdam, and the masks have been made mandatory for everyone over the age of 13. While not compulsory in all areas of the Dutch capital, the rule has been created to specifically target the busiest areas of the city to ensure that businesses won’t be forced to close for a second time, but that people can continue to shop or visit and enjoy Amsterdam safely, even when they cannot maintain 1,5-metre distance.
The areas where the rule applies are:
- The Red Light District
- Albert Cuypstraat
- Plein ‘40-’45
Amsterdam has also put extra measures in place for this weekend, as the municipality is expecting it to be busy. Additional city hosts will be present across the city and certain streets and areas may be closed off if they become too busy. Traffic will also be diverted to ensure that there is extra space for pedestrians and cyclists on certain streets. The city is expected to be busy as weather forecasts predict a beautiful, sunny weekend, and Pride Amsterdam 2020 will come to a close Sunday, August 2.
Face masks in Rotterdam
Similarly to Amsterdam, the rule in Rotterdam will also come into effect on Wednesday, August 5, and will apply to everyone aged 13 and older. The rule is also targeted at particularly busy parts of the city, specifically many shopping areas in central Rotterdam:
- Nieuwe Binnenwegplein
- Visserijplein (on market days)
- Afrikaanderplein (on market days)
- Binnenrotte (on market days)
- Shopping centre Alexandrium
- Shopping centre Zuidplein
Unlike in Amsterdam, Rotterdam has set specific times when the new rule applies: between 6 am and 10 pm. Starting on August 5, signs and posters will be set up in the designated face mask areas, and free face masks will be distributed at the specified areas in an attempt to support people in following the measure.
Face masks in the Netherlands
Rotterdam and Amsterdam have chosen to implement this new measure at a time when the number of new infections is increasing rapidly in both cities. On Thursday, July 30, most new coronavirus cases were reported in Amsterdam (68) and Rotterdam (76). Both cities have attempted to make it clear that wearing a face mask in no way means that members of the public no longer have to maintain 1,5-metre distance whenever possible. Anyone found not wearing a mask in these cities could face a fine.
The decision comes after the Dutch government announced on Wednesday, July 29, that there would be no nationally-enforced rule making face masks compulsory. The government did however give mayors and municipalities the freedom to impose whatever measures they deem necessary to limit the spread of coronavirus.
Many experts believe that enforcing a face mask rule will be extremely difficult in the Netherlands: “It is not legally possible to make it compulsory to wear a mask,” Jan Brouwer, professor of Law and Society at the University of Groningen, told NOS, “it is an indirect means of changing behaviour; it is simply not allowed.” He makes it clear that requesting citizens to wear a mask is legal and possible, but making it compulsory is not feasible.
It is not yet clear if other Dutch cities will follow in Amsterdam and Rotterdam’s footsteps. Breda and Tilburg are known to be considering the measure, and will be closely following the experiment in the other cities.