The winners and losers of the Coronavirus outbreak in the Netherlands

Hello dear readers. At the time of writing it’s day three of the official semi-lockdown in the Netherlands.

Current status

  • All gyms, bars, cafes, restaurants, coffee shops and sex clubs will remain closed until April 6th.
  • From Saturday, March 20, there will only be two trains an hour from every station in the Netherlands
  • Nightrains will no longer be running.  Check the NS website schedules if you’re planning to take a train.

Herd immunity

The medical authority of the Netherlands, the RIVM appear to be relying on ‘herd immunity’. In a speech on Monday, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte stated (quite honestly) that the Dutch health system would not be able to cope with treating everyone who falls ill. He stated that most of us (60%) will catch the Coronavirus and will then be immune to it. I’m only a Shallow Man, so can’t help wondering how many of the 60% will die as a result, but well, helaas pindakaas.  As Bob Marley said, ‘everything’s gonna be alright’. Until it isn’t.

The world health organisation has been critical of the herd immunity approach, as without a vaccine it’s a high-risk strategy. Their advice is to test as many people as possible. Unfortunately, like many other countries, the Netherlands has a shortage of Coronavirus testing kits.

I’m not a scientist and of course, everyone has an opinion about the best way of dealing with the Coronavirus. The Dutch government and the RIVM are doing what they believe are the right things to flatten the curve of infection.  Here’s a link to the RIVM and their advice in English about the Coronavirus and how they plan to deal with it.

The winners and losers of the Coronavirus outbreak

The Winners

1. Retailers

I for one am ecstatic that clothes shops are allowed to stay open. They provide an essential service that’s often underrated by the general public. If Anouk realises that her favourite leopard print top has a cigarette burn, she can hop on her bike, cycle along the pavement (which due fears of the Coronavirus are almost empty) and buy a replacement. She can even get herself some new flared jeans, which will be fashionable this year. As they were last and the year before and the five years before that.


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2. Coffee Shops

Not cafes serving coffee, but actual good old fashioned famous Dutch weed cafes. They were largely taken for granted until last Sunday when the government announced that they would close from 18:00. Suddenly there were long queues as people panicked at the thought of having to wait until April 6th before smoking a joint again. Such is the demand in the Netherlands for weed that the government has actually excluded coffee shops from the lockdown. The exception was made due to the number of street drug dealers that decided to take advantage of the coffee shop closures.

The next time a Dutch person tells you that it’s only expats and tourists that smoke weed in the Netherlands ask them to politely rot op.

3. Supermarkets

Ever since Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte said “Je hoeft niet te hamsteren”, Christmas has come early for Dutch supermarkets. The Dutch are busy with Hamsteren, and in the words of that old song, “nothings gonna stop us now”.  Sales have increased by 50% and the Jumbo supermarket chain had its highest turnover in a single day ever.  In spite of the supermarkets being open, this hasn’t deterred street dealers.

Shit got real

Trying to order online from supermarkets is also a joke at the moment. In my area of Amsterdam, there are no available slots for delivery before April 2nd.

albert heijn deliveries not available for three weeks



4. People who can’t work from home

It’s all well and good telling people to work from home, but not everyone can. What about people who actually do the real work in our society? What about cleaners? My cleaner is hardly going to schedule a video call and clean the house remotely. Taxi drivers who I usually have little sympathy for, are also well and truly screwed.

5. The Self-employed and people in the Horeca business

Now is not a good time to be self-employed or to own a restaurant or cafe. Not every cafe and restaurant can convert to a delivery-only model. Even if they do, many businesses will still have to deal with reduced income and in many cases high fixed costs.  ZZP’ers, one-man businesses have a double whammy of not being entitled to sick pay if they get ill and face the threat of losing assignments if as is expected the Coronavirus caused a recession. The Dutch government have just announced that the self-employed will receive emergency financial support of up to 1500 euros a month.


These are scary times. I’m following the advice of working from home, washing my hands for 20 seconds and keeping social contact to a minimum.

Be careful out there

No amateur virologists were hurt during the writing of this post.

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