Crowded parks, shops as NL residents ignore gov’t call to stay home

Crowded parks, shops as NL residents ignore gov’t call to stay home

Parks, nature reserves, shopping streets and garden centers were crowded in many places in the Netherlands this weekend. It seems that Netherlands residents are desperate to get out, despite the government advising “stay at home”, NOS reports.

A number of nature reserves in Noord Brabant issued a “code red” – telling the public that the reserves are too crowded, stay away. Nature reserves in Utrecht were also crowded. Parking lots were full and there was even a traffic jam at the Sallandse Heuvelrug.

“I get it,” Rein Zwaan, team leader of the forest rangers in the province of Utrecht, said to NOS. “More and more places are closed and people want to get out. Then they think: in nature I’ll have space.” According to him, the problem is crowded parking lots. “We call for people to only go to nature reserves they can reach on foot or by bicycle. But then we encounter a problem: in the west there is just too little nature to receive people.”

City centers were also crowded. In the large-cities, bins were overflowing with takeaway coffee cups. According to hospitality association KHN, more catering entrepreneurs started offering takeout in the second lockdown. “What we see, when the weather is nice, is that people now like to go out into the open air. There aren’t many other options. Catering entrepreneurs are responding to this in order to still create a little turnover and keep employees working.”

According to Rick van Baaren, professor of behavioral change at Utrecht University, people will continue to go out as long as doing so is not banned. “People have the need to do something. That’s human, and not rocket science. If they want to do something, they do it,” he said to the broadcaster. “It’s not forbidden. It’s advice. If you don’t want anyone to go out, you have to ban it. Then people will listen.”

Van Baaren think that the urgency of the crisis has faded. “With every message that the infections are decreasing, people think: we can do something again.” The government needs to radiate perspective, he said. “The government plays the fear card. And says: you are not doing this right. That reproach is not good. If the government shows that it is doing everything it can to get the situation right, more people will do their best.”