The Dutch government has sparked hilarity on social media with a series of web pages telling the population how to deal safely with visits at home in coronavirus times.
‘Wij doen het zo’ (‘this is how we do it’) suggests how people can deal with birthday parties when you are only allowed one guest at home, how to visit grandpa or grandma, or give a dinner party for one guest.
But on Thursday, the Dutch government deleted recommendations for watching football together, including playing music and dancing instead of cheering, following criticism on social media. A spokesperson said encouraging people to watch a match was sending the ‘wrong signal’.
Wie komt er komend weekend bij me langs om een potje voetbal te kijken?
Als er dan gescoord wordt, zal ik – met een ratel in de hand – een muzieknummer afspelen. pic.twitter.com/Lvo79Muh6A
— Robert Dousi (@robertdousi) January 22, 2021
The set of pages was created around two months ago because behavioural research suggested people didn’t know what they were allowed to do, according to a government spokesperson.
It has, however, sparked more criticism on social media for its so-called ‘Jip & Janneke’ style – a reference to a popular series of children’s books – and for suggestions such as posting friends a party pack including a horn, paper hat and confetti, for a birthday video conference.
Rob de Waard, a Twitter commentator, wondered if it was already April 1, while others were curious about why people were being told how to arrange their faces (‘make an open, curious facial expression’) when visiting someone going through tough times.
On Wednesday, fearful of the ‘English variant’ of the coronavirus, B-117, the government toughened up the current lockdown, restricting guests at home to one per day and imposing a 9pm curfew from Saturday. Home visits are thought to be responsible for almost a quarter of infections since August 31 last year.
Since the new website does not appear to be translated into English, DutchNews.nl has digested the most important points (sadly, without the football tips).
Under ‘having someone for dinner’, the government suggests first: ‘Make sure you prepare the meal well.’ Sauces should go in individual serving pots, everyone gets a personal soap, and you should make sure people don’t use the same spoons or glasses by serving them instead.
When visiting the grandparents, the most salient advice is that even if they are having hearing difficulties, you must not talk loudly ‘because this increases the risk of infection.’ The government advises wearing a face mask anyway, playing board games with only one person touching the pieces and to ‘use a notebook and pen if you want to ask grandpa or grandma something’.
Meanwhile when celebrating a birthday, Dutch civil servants advise sending your friends a party pack with drinks, snacks, and the all important paper hat, party hooter and confetti, then celebrating together online. ‘For a fun interaction, you can play an online quiz or escape room,’ it adds.
Meanwhile, the advice if you have a cold (or probably also if you can’t face doing all this), is to cancel.
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