The Netherlands was also a bit clumsy with the development and implementation of the national Covid-19 app. They asked a few developers to prepare a plan, none of which were up to, as they fell short when it came to data privacy. They launched an app after all, but very few Dutch people downloaded it, so it's not really of any use. The leading party of the Netherlands, the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD), is a liberal party, so they attach much value to freedom and liberal values in their approach to their crisis management. But at the same time, they are also a very conservative party. The health minister, Hugo de Jonge, is a member of a coalition-partner, the Christian-Democratic party, CDA. They wanted to have relatively strict rules for the Netherlands, though not to the extent of France and Italy. For example, having to fill in a permission form to go to the supermarket would be unacceptable for the Dutch. Once they discovered they were getting a criminal record when receiving fines because of the violation of Covid-19 rules, the people responded with anger and protest. They found the measure to be disproportionate and too arbitrary.
Protests may also appear at the end of December around the really sensitive topic of fireworks that have now been forbidden in the Netherlands, and in which it is different from other countries. The Netherlands has always had a tradition of New Year's Eve fireworks. Special shops would sell them so that everyone could make their own fireworks, and illegal fireworks bought in Belgium and Germany added to the sometimes chaotic and war-like sceneries on the evening of December 31. The police, the firemen and the hospitals have been complaining about this for years, demanding to stop and supervise this tradition, as is the case in France, where fireworks are organized and controlled. This is sure to become a heated issue in the lead up to and on December 31, as for some people shooting fireworks is as important as keeping guns is in the US for some.
What are the strengths of the national strategy to fight against the spread of the virus?
The government is constantly trying to balance off the economic interests and the health interests. They have tried to implement lockdown measures in such a way that will not affect small businesses too much, with the exception of the bars and restaurants, which will be completely closed until Christmas. All shops could stay open as long as people wear face masks inside, respecting a limit of two people inside at a time. The Netherlands like to proudly call their spring lockdown the "intelligent lockdown", as their economy was relatively spared compared to, for instance, the UK. The government’s priority was always to alleviate the pressure on hospitals, which guided the degree to which the lockdown was enforced.