It’s been nearly a year since the coronavirus pandemic hit the Netherlands. Today, I’m participating in one of Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop prompts. It asks us whether anything is back to normal yet. The short answer is: it depends on your reference point.
Last summer, we were pretty much back to as normal as you get it. We were still social distancing, but shops, restaurants and cafes were open. There were even plans to allow for festivals and the like. And then the second wave hit.
On December 15, the Netherlands entered into the second lockdown. Restaurants and cafes had already been closed sometime in November. In December, schools, including elementary schools and nurseries, closed. Daycare centers and elementary schools opened again the second week of February. However, non-essential shops were also closed. By January, a curfew was issued, allowing people to only be on the streets for certain exceptional reasons from 9PM until 4:30AM.
It is supposed to be a strict lockdown. That being said, this time around it feels easier to me than our first lockdown. After all, even though that one was said to be less strict, and in many ways it was, care facilities were not allowing visitors then. They are again now. Also, physical therapists, dentists and other medical contact professionals are allowed to remain open throughout this lockdown.
On Tuesday, our prime minister held a press conference. In it, he said that, though infection rates didn’t warrant it, society did need a loosening of the lockdown. From next week on, secondary schools will be re-opening part-time. Hairdressers, beauticians and other non-medical contact professionals are also allowed to start working again. In addition, shops are now able to allow at most two customers into the shop at a time. You’re required to register a set timeframe to shop. This will supposedly help small businesses. I already heard a joke about a major budget store being booked full till July of 2023.
Honestly, I’m rather pessimistic about us going back to “normal”, whatever that may be. I’m pretty sure we’ll enter a third wave of the virus in April and that’s assuming the current infection rate is down enough to re-open. Like the prime minister said, it really isn’t. We still get over 4000 new cases of COVID each day.
Last week, my husband Googled the ultimate question: when will COVID end? He saw an article dating back to mid-December predicting that, if by late January, new cases would be down to 1200 a day, COVID would be over by the end of 2021. For the record: new cases were almost ten times that number by then. Vaccination is also going much slower than expected. I predict it’ll be at least the summer of 2022 before we’re back to whatever semblance of normal remains.