Here’s What is Open in Amsterdam
Throughout the Netherlands COVID-19 lockdown rules are being eased. But where international tourism is concerned, Amsterdam may well do so at a slower pace.
Cultural institutions and venues such as museums, theaters, cinemas, and concert halls will reopen at noon on June 1, 2020.
So will cafés and pubs, restaurants, and hotels.
However, the EU-wide entry ban for non-essential travel remains in place until at least June 15, 2020.
Table of contents
The Easing of Coronavirus (COVID-19) measures in Amsterdam
The Basic COVID-19 Rules
Regardless of the relaxation of the coronavirus measures, these basic rules of conduct remain in force:
- Avoid crowds
- Work from home if at all possible
- Keep a distance of 1,5 metres (5 feet) between yourself and others (except if they are members of your household)
- If you have any health issues, such as a cold or flu, stay at home. If you are short of breath and/or have a fever other members of your household must also stay at home.
- Wash your hands. Cough or sneeze into the inside of your elbow. Use paper tissues and toss them into a bin right-away.
Amsterdam Airport Schiphol
Amsterdam Airport Schiphol remained open during the lockdown. Of course, the number of arriving and departing flights were greatly reduced. [ref]Schiphol writes, “Schiphol’s flight numbers to and from the airport decreased by -90% in April 2020, compared to April 2019, to a total of 4,242 flights. 126,877 travelers made their way to, from or transferred at Schiphol, when compared to 6.1-million travelers in April 2019. That amounts to a decrease of -98%. However, cargo flight numbers increased by 713 (+63%), when compared to April 2019, and stood at 1,837.”[/ref]
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines resumed some flights as early as May 4. Transavia, a low-cost airline and a wholly owned subsidiary of KLM, will resume its flight schedule on June 4. Both airlines have announced that passengers will be required to wear non-medical masks during boarding, the flight, and deboarding.
Public transport to and from the Amsterdam airport is up and running, although still on a limited schedule and in limited capacity.
Keep in mind that the EU-wide entry ban for non-essential travel is still in effect until at least June 15, 2020.
Public transport in Amsterdam never came to a complete halt during the height of the coronavirus crisis. However, the number of bus-, tram-, and metro lines was greatly reduced. There were also fewer departures than normal.
Service is being restored in steps. But customers will have to observe a number of rules.
The most controversial measure: Starting June 1, 2020 all public transport customers aged 13 and over must wear a mask while boarding, during the trip, and while deboarding.
Other rules for using Amsterdam’s public transport system (bus, tram, metro, and/or ferry — as well as all trains):
- Use public transport only for necessary trips. If at all possible, avoid traveling during morning and evening rush hours. (Reason: Social distancing rules make it impossible to operate at full capacity).
- Observe the 1.5 metres social distancing space between yourself and people who do not belong to your household.
In all vehicles, measures are being taken to help travelers maintain sufficient distance.
Mind you, if people fail to comply with the regulations, public transport enforcers can issue a fine.
Groups and Events
The ban on open air formation of groups of more than 3 people will expire on 1 June. People may then gather outside again, provided they keep a metre and a half distance (5 feet) between themselves and non-family members. But if groups become too large, the gathering will be seen as an ‘event.’ In that case the group will be asked to disperse.
Meanwhile, large events (which normally require a permit) are not allowed. The cabinet will decide an events strategy on September 1.
Culture: Museums, Theaters, Cinemas, Concert Halls, Monuments, et cetera
Theaters, concert halls, museums, monuments, stages, music schools, centers for the arts and cinemas can open again on June 1 at noon, though only under certain conditions:
- Most locations may have a maximum of 30 visitors.
- The maximum number of visitors at museums and monuments depends on the size and layout of the building. Buildings must lend themselves to the observation of social distancing rules.
- Visitors must always keep a meter and a half (5 feet) away from non-family members.
- Tickets must be bought in advance (in the case of museums and monuments usually with timed entry)
- A brief check interview musts take place before a visitor is allowed to enter. (You’ll be asked question such as, ‘Do you have a cold?’ ‘Have you lost your sense of taste or smell?’ And, ‘Is someone in your household ill?’)
It will be clear that these institutions and venues will be able to welcome far fewer visitors than normally is the case. For instance, the Rijksmuseum normally has some 10.000 visitors a day. For the time being only 2.000 people a day can enter the museum.
Horeca: Hotels, Restaurants, Cafés
- Where possible, cafes, restaurants, and beach bars [ref]While Amsterdam does not have any seaside beaches, it does have a number of more-or-less artificial beaches along the banks of rivers and lakes.[/ref] may welcome up to 30 people in a room. The staff and people outside, for example on the terrace, are not included in this number.
- Everyone should sit at a table, at a distance of one and a half metres apart from others (except people from the same household). Standing around or sitting at the bar is not allowed.
- Confusingly, a protocol published by Koninklijke Horeca Nederland (KHN) — the largest advocacy organisation representing hospitality businesses in the Netherlands — says it will be allowed for two people, or a household with more people, to sit within 1.5 meters of each other.
However, a spokesperson for the Government says that while each branch of business can publish its own protocol, such protocols do not trump official regulations.
- That said, the City of Amsterdam is developing plans that will allow for expanded terraces on city property, such as on Nieuwmarkt square.
Most of these establishments are still in the process of figuring out the details: where people can or cannot sit; whether to separate tables using plexiglas walls; and how people can safely walk to and from their tables.
The EU-wide entry ban for non-essential travel currently is set to remain in effect until June 15, 2020.
This is a restriction on all non-essential travel of persons from third countries to Europe (all EU Member States, all Schengen members and the UK).
Tourism is not essential travel. If you do travel to the Netherlands, you can be refused at the border.
There are some exceptions to the entry ban. For details, see this official website published by the Dutch Government: Q&A’s Travel restrictions for the Netherlands ( EU travel ban).
The return of international tourists in Amsterdam: ‘cautiously and carefully’
Amsterdam mayor Femke Halsema urges ‘extreme caution’ over the quick return of tourism to the city.
A number of parties in the City Council want certain segments of business, such as horeca (hotels, restaurants, cafés) and cultural venues, to reopen as soon as possible. Some also want to stimulate the return of tourists.
“I’m sorry if I am putting a damper on the atmosphere, but we must realize how vulnerable we are,” Halsema told the city council [ref]Tuesday May 19, 2020.[/ref]
‘We don’t want to see Amsterdam hit by a second wave’
“I hear you talking about international tourism, and I also know that there are 55,000 hotel beds waiting for guests,” said Halsema. “In the coming period, however, we must be extremely cautious about stimulating regional, national and international traffic. If we do that too excessively, we run the risk that Amsterdam will become a seat of fire in a second wave [of Coronavirus infections]. ”
Regional authorities have a certain amount of leeway in how they interpret and apply national legislation, including the easing of lockdown measures.
Halsema thinks that it is also in the interest of hotel owners not to let it suddenly become much busier in the city. ‘We don’t want Amsterdam to be hit again,’ she explained Wednesday [May 20, 2020] in the TV talkshow Op1. “I think, the hotel- and catering owners, actually agree with me. Because they also do not want to have that economic setback in the long term. “
Amsterdam lacks space
The mayor points out that Amsterdam struggles with a lack of space. The city has many narrow streets and alleys. In addition, almost a quarter of Amsterdam consists of water. That makes it already difficult enough for the more than 800,000 Amsterdammers to stick to the one and a half metres social distancing rule — let alone when thousands of tourists arrive.
According to Halsema, the restart of tourism should take place ‘cautiously and carefully.’ She suggests it may be a good idea to attract tourists to less crowded areas in the Netherlands.
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