Coronavirus (COVID-19) measures in Amsterdam relaxing
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Amsterdam and the Coronavirus crisis

Corona virus COVID-19 stops overtourism in its tracks

Dam square, normally one of Amsterdam's busiest squares, seen during the Coronavirus lockdown
Normally busy Dam square seen during the ‘intelligent lockdown’ due to the Coronavirus crisis. While not mandatory, people are strongly encouraged to stay at home at all times. (Image: screenshot from the Amsterdam Dam webcam)

What a difference a virus makes. Just like other popular cities around the world, Amsterdam went from struggling with overtourism to deserted canals, streets, and squares virtually overnight.

More about that in a moment.


Damrak with and without tourists

But first, some Amsterdam Coronavirus facts:

Amsterdam Coronavirus Statistics

Netherlands

In the Netherlands at present 43.995 people are or have been infected with the new coronavirus (COVID-19) .1

11.552 people are or have been hospitalized. 5.680 people have died.

Amsterdam

In the Amsterdam region 2.256 people are or have been infected.

A total of 603 persons were or have been hospitalized. 253 people have died.

Note: The real number of infections is higher, since only people admitted to a hospital are actively tested for COVID-19.

Source: Rijksinstituut voor Volksgezondheid en Milieu (RIVM) — National Institute for Public Health and the Environment

Status last updated: Monday, May 18, 2020 – 7:42 AM CET

Current coronavirus measures in the Netherlands

These nationwide coronavirus measures, published by the Dutch Government, apply in Amsterdam as well. Click to download the full poster as a PDF file.

Netherlands: Intelligent Lockdown

Every country has its own approach to combat the spread of the coronavirus. The Dutch government chose for an ‘intelligent lockdown.’

What is an intelligent lockdown?

The Netherlands does not have a mandatory lockdown. Instead, the Dutch government issued an ‘intelligent lockdown.’

An ‘intelligent lockdown’ means people should act wisely: stay home as much as possible. Work from home if at all possible.

You can take necessary trips outside the home — for instance to shop for necessities, or to visit a medical facility — but only if you are free from coronavirus infection symptoms.

It’s even OK to go for a walk in the neighborhood, as long as you avoid crowd (and gatherings of more than 3 people).

In addition, keep a distance of at least 1.5 meters (5 feet) from non-family members.

In other words, use your brains.

By the way: if you violate certain rules, by not observing proper distance, or gathering with more than 3 people, you riks a €390 fine.

General coronavirus measures in Amsterdam

The following basic rules continue to apply to everyone:

  • Avoid crowds
  • Work from home if possible
  • Stay at least 1.5 meters (5 feet) away from non-family members
  • Always stay at home if have coronavirus symptoms. If you develop shortness of breath and / or fever, family members must also stay at home
  • Wash hands frequently. Cough and sneeze into your elbow, or use tissue paper and throw it out immediately
  • If you are 70 years or older, or if you are in a frail health, take extra care

One and a half meter society

We better get used to the one and a half meter society as soon as possible, says Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

He was referring to the basic rule that people keep a distance of at least 1.5 meters (5 feet) away from non-family members.

The Dutch term is anderhalvemetersamenleving.

Loosening of some coronavirus measures in Amsterdam

Since the start of the crisis, authorities issued a number of progressively stricter measures. The aim: slowing down the spread of the Coronavirus.

Currently (last updated Monday, May 18, 2020) there is a gradual easing of those measures.

Museums and tourist attractions closed

There is a ban on meetings and gatherings that potentially include more than 100 attendants. This ban will last until at least June 1.

This measure led to the closure of

Damrak, the main street between Amsterdam Central Station and Dam square is nearly empty a result of the Coronavirus lockdown.
Normally teeming with locals and tourists alike, Damrak — the main thoroughfare between Amsterdam Central Station and Dam square — is nearly deserted during the ‘intelligent lockdown.’ Public transport still operates, but on a greatly reduced schedule. Those yellow spots? Planters with tulips.

Hotels, restaurants and schools closed

Next (March 15) horeca (Hotel, Restaurant, Café) services closed. Food takeout and delivery services may continue.

In a practice referred to as ‘hamster shopping,’ grocery stores see a run on toilet paper, rice, pasta, canned tomatoes, and everything else customers want to hoard.

Grocery stores see their home delivery services maxed out.

Run on Coffeeshops

Coffeeshops? Well, the ones that normally serve quality brews and pastries are closed; while the shops that primarily serve cannabis are allowed to sell their wares via kiosk-style take-out windows.

Initially the latter were closed down completely as part of the ban on horeca services. But when illegal street sellers immediately took over authorities quickly decided to make an exception.

Salient detail: While social media showed Americans lining up to buy guns, the Dutch were lining up to stockpile weed.

A last minute run on coffeeshops

Social Distancing: Many shops closed

On March 23 the government announced stricter measures. For one thing, all meetings and events, regardless of size, are banned until June 1.

Also, In many areas gatherings of more than 3 people are banned until June 1. Mayors have been given the power to fine people who break the rules. That includes those who do not keep a distance of at least 1.5 meters (5 foot) from others.

Many shops closed due to this social distancing measure. Others, including supermarkets, limit access to a certain number of people at a time. Some have either extended or curtailed their opening hours.

Which shops are still open in Amsterdam?

Tip: This Dutch-language website includes a list of Amsterdam shops that thus far remain open during the Coronavirus crisis.

Street markets may only include stalls that sell food. Here, too, people must stay at least 1.5 meters (5 foot) from others.

Naturally, those who work in so-called contact professions in the field of external care (think barber shops, beauticians, and personal trainers) cannot ply their trade for the time being.

Public Transport

Public transport in Amsterdam (and throughout the Netherlands) is operating on reduced schedules.

In addition, those who travel on buses, trams, trains, and ferries must observe the rule to keep 1.5 meters (5 foot) distance from each other.

Here’s Dam Square on a normal day, as filmed by Amsterdam city chronicler Thomas Schlijper

Financial Assistance during the crisis

The government has made financial assistance available to help companies survive the effects of the crisis. This includes loans and/or subsidies.

ZZP’ers — ‘self-employed without personnel’ — are eligible for financial assistance as well.

King’s Day, Festivals, and other large scale events

There were no public King’s Day (April 27) celebrations anywhere in the country. National Remembrance Day (May 4) and Liberation Day (May 5) did not include public events either.

Coronavirus impact on Amsterdam’s tourism industry

In 2019 Amsterdam, a city of 1.1 million people, saw nearly 20 million tourists. Nearly 45% of them come from the Netherlands, by the way.

But now tourism has screeched to a halt — with the hordes stopped in their tracks by the Coronavirus.

What city officials and local activists were unable to accomplish, the Coronavirus (COVID-19) managed to do: stem the overflow of tourists visiting Amsterdam.

Sure, it’s only a temporary reprieve, and the circumstances are far from ideal. But many Amsterdammers — particularly those who live in the city center — are breathing a sigh of relief.

Hotels, B&B, and Airbnb

Most hotels (about 75%) and B&B’s have closed, as have the fast majority of accommodations normally available through city-destroyer Airbnb. (You can tell we’re not fans, right? If you use Airbnb, you help rob and destroy communities and cities, including Amsterdam.)

You can still book hotels in Amsterdam.

Amsterdam Airport Schiphol

Travel restrictions have grounded most passenger airplanes.

Due to the greatly reduced number of flights in- and out of the airport, Schiphol has closed down 5 of its 7 piers.

Take plenty of time to get to the aiport as public transport to and from Amsterdam Airport Schiphol operates on a reduced schedule. Buses and trains may be subject to delays.

Video: Amsterdam’s quiet streets

Amsterdam as few people — locals and tourists alike — have ever seen it: empty streets.
Video by Taxi1108

Visit Amsterdam after the Coronavirus crisis

As you can imagine, right now everything is up in the air. Nobody knows how the Coronavirus situation will develop, when restrictions will be lifted, and when tourists will be able to visit Amsterdam again.

If and when travel to Amsterdam starts back up again, the DutchAmsterdam team of Amsterdam Experts will let you know. Be sure to subscribe to our updates:

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Notes:

  1. The actual number of infections with the coronavirus is higher than the number mentioned here. This is because not everyone with possible contamination is tested. People with mild symptoms are told to stay at home.
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