Riot police and arrests at impromptu King’s Day parties nationwide
The police took action to end impromptu King’s Day parties in Amsterdam, Utrecht, Breda and Haarlem on Tuesday afternoon, after thousands of youngsters gathered in parks and city centres in the spring sunshine.
In Amsterdam, some 50 people were arrested and riot police were brought in to restore order in Amsterdam’s Jordaan district. ‘It was as if coronavirus did not exist,’ the council warden union BOA Bond said.
Earlier in the day, officials had closed parks in the capital and various other cities, as youngsters carrying coolboxes of beer and snacks poured in. Amsterdam’s canals were packed with pleasure boats, while huge groups of partying youngsters danced on the bridges.
Amsterdam mayor Femke Halsema asked the city’s supermarkets and cafes to stop selling alcohol an hour before the 8pm deadline in an effort to encourage people to return home. Shortly before the last night of the curfew, the city was relatively quiet, although tonnes of rubbish left on the streets was testament to the day’s events.
The regional safety council said on Tuesday evening that most people had followed instructions to stay home, despite the problems in the bigger cities. ‘It makes sense that people miss events and a party… but it only by keeping to the rules that we can relax them,’ chairman Hubert Bruls said. ‘The speed at which we can phase out the measures, is largely up to us.’
In Breda, the Valkenberg park was closed because of the crowds and riot police moved in later in the afternoon to force everyone to move elsewhere. Over 100 fines were issued and two people were arrested.
Utrecht also issued a public appeal to would-be visitors to keep out of the overcrowded city centre.
In Groningen, council officials urged people to stay away from the Noorderplantsoen park because it was too busy and in Haarlem police told people to leave the city centre. The council also closed cafes and bars and urged supermarkets to stop selling alcohol.
In Eindhoven too, the council appealed to people to stay home and in Tilburg officials limited numbers who could enter the Spoorpark
In Leeuwarden, riot police were brought in to deal with a group of youngsters who were throwing bottles, and seven people were arrested at a party in woods near the Frisian village of Oudemirdum.
In Arnhem too, there were arrests after hundreds of people gathered in the Sonsbeek park for a spontaneous party.
Kom niet meer naar de Markt in Arnhem. Het is vol. Het maximum aantal deelnemers is bereikt! pic.twitter.com/XuLtOY4gKd
— Gemeente Arnhem (@gemeentearnhem) April 27, 2021
Epidemiologist Alma Tostmann from the Radboudumc hospital in Nijmegen, said on Twitter that the videos of partying youngsters gave her ‘stomach ache’.
She urged people who have been in busy places to avoid contact with others this week as a ‘sort of quarantine’.
And virologist Marion Koopmans urged people to remember that ‘we are not there yet’.
The spontaneous parties are ‘understandable’ given that everyone wants to be able to do more, she said. ‘But the situation is still worrying and we cannot allow ourselves to do too much.’
If there is a surge in coronavirus infections stemming from the King’s Day festivities, they will start to become apparent after seven days or so.
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