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Corona Measures: Amsterdam Coffeeshops Open With Restrictions

A slight panic struck Amsterdam’s 420 community when, in the late afternoon of March 15th, the Dutch government announced measures to curb the spread of the Corona virus. All establishments in the Netherlands, such as restaurants, bars and coffeeshops, were to be closed by 6 o’clock that evening, and were to remain closed for at least three weeks.

In a last-minute effort to secure something to smoke during the impending ‘drought’, people formed long lines outside the city’s cannabis shops. In those queues, which sometimes stretched for tens of metres along the sidewalk and around corners, patrons were not keeping distance from each other. To make matters worse, at some coffeeshops the people waiting outside were being preyed upon by street dealers who were handing out businesscards and promoting their merchandise as the soon-to-be only alternative.

However, the government took notice of the situation and in the course of following day the coffeeshops were allowed to open again – be it with restrictions: Takeaway only (no seats, no service, no toilet), everyone is to keep 1.5 metres distance from others and there is a limit on the number of customers that can pick up products that are allowed in the coffeeshop at one time for pickup.

On top of this, most reopened coffeeshops have added their own measures such as the placement of transparant screens on the dealer’s counter and distance markers on the floor.

Relaxing Restrictions

Prime Minister Mark Rutte recently announced the long awaited relaxation of most restrictions. In public buildings from June 1, a maximum of thirty people will be allowed per room. This means, for example, that movie theaters and concert halls can open again.

In addition, most establishments may also open on June 1st. There is no maximum number of people on the terraces but everyone should sit at a table and keep 1.5 meters apart.

Coffeeshops have to wait two months longer to fully open. They will be allowed to provide public access without capacity restrictions again from September 1st.

Had Too Much Space Cake? Amsterdam Tourist Doctor Comes To The Rescue

When doctor Van Ommeren is called during his night shifts, he must make a quick analysis. Does it sound urgent or can it wait a while? Then he cycles to the tourist’s residence, often in the centre of Amsterdam.

His medical service for international visitors has been around for three years now. After having worked in Australia for two years, Van Ommeren returned to the Netherlands and founded HotelDoc.

In a recent interview with newspaper Parool, Van Ommeren says that “a large part of the job consists of the classic cases for a general practitioner: stomach flu, airway complaints but also – what else – cannabis.”

Space cake is usually the culprit. According to the doctor, it is striking that it is often middle-aged people make the mistake of eating too much. “They want to try some but they’re not accustomed to much [of it’s effect]. They panic, get palpitations and think they’re dying. Yesterday I was with a patient who had eaten space cake and engulfed the entire bathroom in puke. It came up to the ceiling. It didn’t help that the partner also ate space cake and was also panicking, with one inflicting the other. The only thing I can do is reassure them. Then I do a few small tests, such as measuring blood pressure. It’s not medically necessary, but it helps to reduce the panic. I only leave when they are calmed down. Usually I say: tomorrow you will laugh about it.”