Corona in Amsterdam - an Experience From a 24-year Old

I suddenly find myself going on strolls through the park with friends, doing board games at home, or talking to my neighbours almost every morning from our balconies. It’s a weird situation. But thankfully for me, not necessarily a bad situation.

Story by Joost Backer
Netherlands, Western Europe
Published on April 8, 2020

Reading time: 4 minutes

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In the first weeks of late-Jan, February, it was still far away. It’s ironic to think back of the disbelief me and my friends voiced to each other when the Chinese city of Wuhan, the first acknowledged epicenter of the Corona virus, was locked down completely.

Because then cases emerged in Iran, and then in Italy. And a few days later, the first Corona patients appeared in the Netherlands. Here the spread was accelerated (as far as we know) due to people massively going on skiing holidays in Italy, and the carnaval in our the Dutch province of Brabant, where a lot of people dress up to gather, drink beer and party together – the perfect place for a virus to spread. And now suddenly, we ourselves are in lockdown.

Since mid-March, all bars, restaurants and public spaces are closed. Except for supermarkets and food supply stores. We need to keep 1.5 meters distance (boy, for the rest of my life I will associate this number with Corona…). We can only go outside with 2 people in total, facing a fine of EUR 400 (which the police is ready to write out). On the beaches the police use drones, yes: DRONES, to vigilate if people are keeping their distance. 

Amidst these turbulent times, I feel lucky enough to be doing quite well actually. Suddenly I find myself going on strolls through the park with friends (instead of going for a beer), doing board games at home (instead of going for a beer), or talking to my neighbours almost every morning from our balconies (instead of going for a.. no, I don’t do that in the mornings). It’s not necessarily better, but it’s different.

The government policy is not to fully control and lock down everything: but to pursue ‘controlled infection’ in which people will get sick, and thus also get immune, and we do not reach the ‘steep curve’ which everyone is so afraid of. The argument is that if we would lock ourselves up completely and not get sick, nobody would become resistant and in a few month’s time the virus could strike again.

We have in total 2,400 Intensive Care beds available for Corona patients. As of April 8th, 1,400 of these beds are occupied and  2,200 people have died.

In the Netherlands there is not really a way to be sure if you have (or have had) the Corona virus. We are not tested for it, whereas this is happening in so many other countries. The reason is that there simply are not enough tests available.

Other than that I’m working from home everday now. I work as a sustainability consultant, and although I prefer working at the office MUCH MORE, I’m actually spending more time outside than if I had been in the office. I’m quite surprised that I also stick to the 1.5 meter rules quite faithfully. A reason might be the rather strange ‘dual nature’ of these Corona measures: keeping a distance is not only in my own interest of not getting sick; it’s also my responsibility not to get others sick. Corona seems to trigger both egoism and altruism.

It’s a weird situation. And I realize it must be a very difficult situation for many people. But thankfully for me, it's not necessarily a bad situation.


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Joost Backer

Joost Backer

Hey there! I'm Joost, 24 years old, from Amsterdam, Holland. What excites me? Creating songs at the piano. Going outside and play football. Reading (philosophical) novels. And above all: Getting inspired by other people's stories. By YOUR story. 

Having studied Political Economy and a bit of Anthropology, focused on Latin America, I now work as a sustainability consultant at NewForesight. 

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