Mandatory face masks in Rotterdam and Amsterdam as coronavirus infections rise
With infection rates rising throughout the Netherlands, face masks have become mandatory in busy areas of Amsterdam and Rotterdam. But municipalities have said they won’t issue fines on the first day.
Mandatory face masks in Dutch cities
The rule came into effect at 9 am in Amsterdam and 6 am in Rotterdam on Wednesday, August 5, and boards and posters have been placed in the designated areas to ensure locals and tourists alike are aware of the new measures. It was announced on Tuesday, August 4, that anyone over the age of 13 seen not wearing a mask in the necessary places would be issued a 95-euro fine.
However, both cities have stated that no fines will be issued immediately. In Rotterdam, people without masks in the specified areas will receive warnings and may be asked to leave.
A spokesperson for safety region Amsterdam-Amstelland told Trouw that, in Amsterdam, “We are going to address people first and do everything we can to encourage them to voluntarily put on the mask in the designated areas. We are not going to write any fines in the first period of the experiment... We expect people to comply with the obligation to wear a mask, for their own health and that of others."
The so-called experiment is set to last four weeks. Currently, the main concern is that cyclists will forget the face mask. The NederlandseDagblad reported on Wednesday that many cyclists on Meent and the Coolsingel (two of the designated mask-areas in Rotterdam) were seen without masks.
Coronavirus outbreaks in Amsterdam and Rotterdam
In the weekly update published by the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), it was revealed that a total of 2.588 coronavirus infections were confirmed last week - over 1.000 more than were reported in the week before - in spite of the fact that fewer people were getting tested for the virus.
Rotterdam has seen over 500 new coronavirus cases in the past week, while Amsterdam saw 400 new cases. Amsterdam also saw a record number of positive tests this week: between the morning of August 3 and the morning of August 4, 149 people tested positive for the virus. This is the highest number of cases in the Dutch capital in a 24 hour period since April 30.
There have also been a number of new coronavirus outbreaks across Dutch cities in the past few days. At a popular Amsterdam strip club, La Vie en Proost, 10 of the 40 employees and one customer tested positive for the virus, and the GGD says it is likely that more customers were infected. Furthermore, four (prospective) members of the Amsterdam student association tested positive, and all introduction-week events were cancelled as a result. Student associations in Rotterdam fear they will have to do the same to stop the further spread of the virus.
RIVM epidemiologist Susan van den Hof said in an interview with Radio 1 programme Nieuws & Co on Tuesday that people should avoid all busy areas, including the centre of Amsterdam and Rotterdam, unless it is absolutely necessary to go there.
Mandatory face masks in the Netherlands
On Wednesday, July 29, the Dutch government announced that there would be no national rule making face masks compulsory in public or indoor spaces, following an investigation by the Outbreak Management Team (OMT). However, Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced on Tuesday that he would be holding a press conference with Health Minister Hugo de Jonge on Thursday, August 6, to address the rising number of infections.
Sources in The Hague informed the NRC that the government was considering introducing new regional measures The measures would target coronavirus hotspots, such as Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and The Hague. Therefore, it is unlikely that Rutte will make face masks mandatory for the whole country.