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The Netherlands in lockdown

We have now been in lockdown (if you can call it that) since Sunday. I've actually lost count of how many lockdowns we've had here. I think this is the third, although it feels like it's the hundredth! This time is from being a lockdown really. We're all advised to stay home as much as possible, work from home unless essential and receive no more than two visitors to your home a day. However, all but essential shops have been forced to close. This was predictable. Just the same as they did last year actually, shortly before Christmas. Only this year, numbers were shockingly high a couple of weeks ago, and they did nothing. The number of positive cases each day broke all previous records. Hospitals were close to breaking point, and some patients were being sent to Germany for treatment in hospitals there as they reached the max here. There was no talk of lockdown then though. Oh no, let the taxpayers shop on the run up to Christmas. Stock up on food and drink for their family celebrations. Of course presents too - although Christmas is not as commercialised here as it is in some countries.

Well, after the alarmingly high figures of a couple of weeks ago, it is now dropping fairly rapidly, but this 'lockdown' is apparently because of the new strain, and that they're not sure how serious it will be. I understand that, but think it a bit of a joke after how serious the situation was here only a couple of weeks ago and that they did nothing then. Not quite nothing. They were discussing a possible 2G Covid policy, as opposed to the current 3G one. I'm not sure what the 'G' stands for. I did read about it, but it's one of those complicated and insanely difficult to pronounce Dutch words, so upon discovering it, I instantly forget it! But in a nutshell, 3G is that in order to access certain venues you need to show your QR code to state that you are either fully vaccinated, recently recovered from having Covid, or that you have tested negative for it within the last 48 hours. 2G removes the latter, ie, you have to be fully vaccinated or recovered from a Covid infection. Testing negative will not grant you entry. I feel very strongly against both of these, because we all know the vaccines are not 100% effective, nor at the tests 100% accurate. A person can be positive but it is not yet detectable on a test. Whether they can be spreading it during that time or not, I don't know. I suspect they can, but I could be wrong. The big joke to me is that even vaccinated people can and do spread it. Unintentionally, of course, but it doesn't stop vaccinated people from being carriers. It merely decreases the chance of them getting infected themselves, and if they are, the severity is significantly lower. Being vaccinated or not is irrelevant in that case, as we can all be carriers, and therefore spreaders. But what the 3g policy is currently doing is creating a divide in society. It is causing rifts between families and friends. With todays tolerance and equal rights across all sorts of subjects, walks of life, beliefs (rightly so, I might add!), here we all are finding new ways to inflict our prejudices on others. The vaxxed vs unvaxxed (or vice versa if you prefer). It's just horrible. What a horrid world we're living in. I don't want to look at the person stood near me in the street, and inch away from them as if he/she is a leper. S/he is my friend until s/he wrongs me in any way. Whether vaccinated or not, that's his choice, not mine! The same applies to me. But this covid access pass is making us all suspicious of anyone and everyone else, and it's just so cold and unpleasant. All this in an age we've all fought for equal rights. But here we all are creating a new type of segregation.

nurse holding covid vaccine vial

I strongly resent the idea of having to disclose to another person who is not a close friend, family member, or part of my healthcare, anything related to my medical status! I'm sorry, but could you imagine three years ago being asked whether you were HIV positive or not in order to enter a bar? If somebody had asked me that, they would have had a very short two word reply. I'll give you a clue, it ends in 'off!'But now, it's the norm! Most venues have scanners, rather than a person to check your QR code. But venues have had to buy these (probably) expensive scanners too. And others, simply have a member of staff manually looking at your phone, although I haven't encountered any of those. However, I don't feel the desire to disclose, electronically or in person, any details about my healthcare to a business, it's employees, or even those stood behind me in the queue! I have nothing to hide. I have not (yet) had covid, and if I do, I won't be going out whilst I have it. So, all those in that queue are probably in the same boat. Not sick, unless they're not displaying symptoms, in which case that little mobile phone app isn't going to know they're contagious any more than they know themselves! Just assume I'm contagious, but have no symptoms. I'll get in to the restaurant/bar/club, just like everyone else with my QR code. I'll inadvertantly spread it, and nobody, including myself at this stage, will be any the wiser! So what purpose does it serve? 3G is bad enough. That is the system we currently have (or did, before non essential businesses were forced to close again). But to bring in 2G creates even more of a divide. That too, serves no purpose as it won't significantly (if at all) reduce the transmission.

I haven't been to any bars, restaurants, clubs. I haven't even been to the cinema, something I loved doing before. I had high hopes of attending a couple of concerts before Covid broke out. But I have no intention of going to these things right now as the risk is simply too high. Instead, I've been enjoying quiet walks in less popular places. I've discovered some quite nice places as a result. Of course I miss concerts and meals out, but it isn't just about me. Nor my household. I'd feel terrible if I caught Covid, and there was a possibility that my actions cost somebody else's life because they caught it from me. Of course I probably wouldn't know they caught it from me. It could have been from anyone, but I think it's selfish to carry on as normal, with no regard for others. I do think we need to carry on, somehow, but not as we're used to. I don't know what all the answers are, but in my opinion, our government, along with most others can't manage a booze up in a brewery. This isn't a dig at the Dutch government. Not at all. I actually think the Dutch and British governments are equally as dopey! If you put Boris and Rutte together, I think they'd be quite dangerous. I also feel sorry for business owners. Bars, restaurants, clubs. It must be so hard for them. Not just the owners, but the staff too.

Covid 19 rapid test and passport

Previous years, at this time, I would have been trecking off to Christmas markets! The last one we went to was just before Covid broke out actually. We went to Dortmund Christmas market. It was the best one I'd been to actually. The first one I went to, the first year I lived in the Netherlands was Cologne. That was very good, but absolutely packed. Huge queues for most chalets, especially ones selling food or drink. But the atmosphere was amazing. Well Dortmund market was smaller, but not by any means small. It was still busy, but not huge queues, but most of all I'd say it was more craft and artisanal stuff than the touristy buy your gluhwein mug with Koln written on it! It goes without saying that I did of course sample the gluhwein. Somebody has to, right?! But I have enough mugs from Cologne, Amsterdam and a few others from previous years, so I didn't buy another in Dortmund! This year, I so strongly wanted to go to one of the markets. I was thinking of Dortmund again. But, despite lockdown I'd already decided it would be foolish, and selfish to do so. I didn't even check whether the border was open or not, and whether Dutch are allowed to cross. Or maybe we'd face difficulties upon our return. No idea. I wanted to go, but decided against it. Well now even if I want to, I can't. To my kmowledge, borders are still open, as I read a lot of Dutch have been going to Belgium the last two days because of the lockdown here. But whether they are going legally, or whether there simply are no border checks, I don't know. But I won't be one of them. It's a combination of all these things that I'm just not feeling Christmasy this year. The first year was quite pleasant having a quiet stay at home Christmas. Last year I was sick (not Covid). But this year I was so hoping things would be back to normal. But no, we're facing the possible prospect of 2G instead. Not yet, but there's rumours of it. we'll see.

Speaking of Christmas, I haven't put my tree up (read my last post, here) as I just wasn't feeling it this year. I normally go all out with Christmas, but this year I've had to force myself to put a few decorations up, just not my big tree and all the trimmings. It's a very toned down year. That's just how I feel about it this year! I have a little confession to make, but I'll save it for after Christmas. All will become clear then! On that note, I'd like to wish you all a very happy Christmas. Wherever you are in the world, and whatever you're doing, stay safe, and most importantly, stay healthy!

Father Christmas figure standing next to a piano

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I'd like to wish all my readers a Happy New Year! Let's hope that 2022 proves to be better than the last couple of years have been for us al