It's a summery Easter weekend, but the sea is too cold to swim in

Friday was the first regional ‘summer’ day in the Netherlands this year, with the temperature topping 25 degrees in the Limburg village of Arcen. Saturday is likely to be a day of nationwide summer temperatures, according to weather forecaster Weerplaza. A day is officially classed as summery if the temperature hits 25 degrees at the De Bilt weather station near Utrecht. The weekend is forecast to remain warm and sunny, although there may be some cloud on Easter Monday and it will be cooler. But despite the heat, day trippers are being warned that the sea will still be too cold to swim in, the Dutch lifeboat association said. Beach-goers who do take a dip should beware of the risk of hypothermia. ‘Go up to your ankles in the water but not deeper because your body will cool off quickly,’ a spokesman said. The official Dutch beach season starts at the end of May and many beaches do not yet have lifeguards.  More >

More Easter bonfires banned

Almost half the 120 traditional Easter bonfires planned for the holiday weekend in Overijssel province have been banned because the long drought and warm weather has increased the risk of the fires spreading. Enschedé, Dalfsen and Hardenberg have banned fires in several villages and in other places the celebrations have been adapted to take the risk into account, broadcaster RTV Oost said. The annual competition between the villages of Espelo and Dijkerhoek to build the biggest fire has also been scrapped, the broadcaster said. Local officials gave the fires the green light, on the condition they contain no more than 500 cubic metres of wood. This would allow a fire of just eight metres high, well below the usual height of 20 metres. Dozens of fires have also been banned in parts of Gelderland, broadcaster RTV Gelderland said. The habit of building massive outdoor bonfires for Easter is particularly popular in Gelderland and Overijssel.  More >

Minister gets tough on problem refugees

The government is to get tougher on would-be refugees who are causing problems in both refugee centres and places where they are based, junior justice minister Mark Harbers told MPs on Wednesday. The Netherlands currently has two centres for problem cases - in Heerenveen and in Amsterdam. Most of the residents come from safe third countries such as Morocco  and face deportation but have not yet been sent back. The measures which apply to the two centres - such as a curfew and a ban on visiting certain areas - have not sufficiently dealt with the problems being caused, Harbers said. The situation is worst in Heerenveen, and now the centre's residents are to be banned from more parts of town, including the local shopping centre. They will only now be able to visit a store on a supervised visit, the minister said. He is also drafting in extra personnel to help with the supervision. Harbers said he wants to speed up the assessment of asylum requests by people from safe countries, so they can be sent back as quickly as possible. The experiment with the special centres runs until the end of the year.  More >