Should the end of the pandemic be recognised by a public holiday?
It's hard to believe that coronavirus took over the Netherlands over a year ago, but in contrast to this time last year, many are optimistic that the worst is behind us and that the country should be able to return to normal long before another year passes.
While it’s not yet known when exactly the Netherlands will be able to return to normal - or what exactly that new normal might look like - some are already looking forward to celebrating the end of the pandemic, and are looking for ways the country can mark the moment and celebrate it together.
A public holiday as a reward for surviving coronavirus restrictions?
Frits Rosendaal, a professor of clinical epidemiology at the Leiden University Medical Centre (LUMC) believes a public holiday could serve as a small reward for members of the public, particularly young people, who have consistently adhered to the government’s restrictions and have given up a number of freedoms.
The Netherlands is known for having very few public holidays, and so perhaps there are many across the country who would be in favour of having one extra day off. However, Rosendaal doesn’t think the day should just be used for celebrating - he believes the holiday should also be an opportunity to commemorate all those who have been lost to the virus, and to celebrate the victories of science and the healthcare system.
“When the cafes open again, you can organise something,” Roosendaal says, “We managed to keep our head up as best we could. Working with the laptop in bed while the children were running around, that's impressive. We did it!”
A day to collectively mourn the lives that have been lost
There are others who don’t feel a holiday would be appropriate. Peter Jan Margry, who conducts research into Dutch culture at the Meertens Institute, is one of them. “Holidays have a completely different character and function,” he says.
Instead, he would like to see the ending of the pandemic marked in a more sombre way which would provide the public with the opportunity to mourn: “There is now no possibility to mourn collectively. So, when everything is over, we can, for example, make a monument and organise an annual ceremony there.”
But when will the Netherlands really be free of coronavirus?
Regardless of the discussions being had, the end is not yet here, and Roosendaal acknowledges that it would be difficult to pick out a specific date to mark the end of coronavirus - how will the country know when it is officially over?
What do you think - how could the Netherlands mark the end of the coronavirus pandemic? Should anything be organised? Let us know!