In addition to the fatigue and hopelessness due to the corona crisis, the annoyance in Nieuwegein is also increasing, as appears de Volkskrant there for the third time this year. ‘During the first wave, there was always something to look forward to: summer, the holidays. Now there is nothing. ‘
At the parking meter under the Cityplaza shopping center, a new line to pay is always forming. Although the masks are in the majority, Prime Minister Rutte’s advice not to ‘fun shopping’ does not seem to be for every Nieuwegeiner. ‘It is very busy here, especially on Friday and Saturday,’ says clothing salesman Dennis van den Heuvel (22).
‘As an entrepreneur, I will cut my own fingers with this,’ thinks Paul Verweij of the Marpa leather goods store. ‘But when I see entire families shopping on Saturdays, I think: that cannot be the intention. It is really much busier than in the spring. We will not prevent a lockdown with this behavior. ‘
“We are at a crossroads,” said Prime Minister Rutte on the corona figures on Tuesday. The cabinet is not taking any new measures for the time being, partly because it is not yet possible to say exactly whether the measures introduced two weeks ago will do enough. Nevertheless, the number of infections is around 10 thousand every day (due to a catching up due to a computer failure, there were 11 thousand on Friday) and the current measures will probably last until December.
‘We all saw it coming,’ Verweij observes from behind his mudguard. Take the young people who recently celebrated illegally in Hilversum under a viaduct, he cannot understand it. ‘Don’t they have grandfather and grandmother? Come on, how hard is it to keep your shit up for a year? ”
In addition to the fatigue and hopelessness due to the corona crisis, the annoyance in Nieuwegein is also increasing, as appears de Volkskrant there for the third time this year. In April, the choice fell on this municipality, which is not only centrally located in the Netherlands, but where corona also manifested itself on average. Last week, 259 infections were reported, roughly equal to the national average. And for the first time in five months, someone died of the virus: the fifteenth corona death in Nieuwegein.
‘The people walk right through you’
At the first visit, the cheerfulness still predominated. Everyone had enough breath for more months of denial, washing their hands and keeping their distance, it was thought.
Two months later, Nieuwegein celebrated the freedom that, according to Rutte, it had regained faster than expected along with the rest of the country. The prime minister also warned: “What we have to do in the near future is to ensure that there is no second wave.”
Four months later, it is also clear in the location of Nieuwegein how disastrous the summer has turned out. Gerard Huijg was already afraid of it when he heard how many flights returned from an orange risk area. He and his wife did not even think about a vacation, partly because he had to undergo open-heart surgery.
They have made their world as small as possible. They hardly see any family anymore, they avoided restaurants in the summer because people were too close to each other. They only do sports at home. ‘With the Netherlands on the move.’
For them too, the behavior of others is the biggest source of annoyance. Huijg has not yet spoken the sentence that people ‘walk right through you’ or two young construction workers shuffle right in front of him. “When you approach people, they feel corrected,” says his wife Dini. “If you had stayed home, you will be told.”
Clothing salesman Dennis, in turn, does not understand why everyone, including Rutte, seems to target the youngsters so much. ‘At least young people wear a mouth mask, also because they think it’s cool. We also sell them. But do you know who I often see walking without a mask? Old people with walkers. ‘
“Everyone is less cheerful, less patient,” states shop assistant Nathalie (she does not want to mention her last name) in a soft voice, while she smokes a cigarette. “We also grumble a lot more.”
What bothers her again: that people pay such attention to each other. “Let people do whatever they want, as long as they don’t spread the virus.” The driver she was riding with recently said before the ride that he would not wear a face mask. ‘Fine, then I can decide for myself whether I get off or not. And the skylight was open. ‘
The cabinet does not have to intervene even harder for her. “I’m already acting responsibly.” Her partner will soon finally have surgery on his meniscus, they can only hope that the hospital does not cancel because it needs all the hands for the corona patients.
King’s Day, that is still a long way off
This way, everyone has their own motive for adhering to the measures. Clothing salesman Dennis is ‘not afraid of corona himself’, but does not want to infect his parents. And he hopes that one day the discos will be able to open again. The last time he played as a DJ, he remembers well, was in café De Don in De Meern. ‘In January.’
Every few weeks, mayor Frans Backhuijs encourages his residents to ‘persevere’. Then again he warns everyone to obey the rules or he expresses his pride about the behavior of the 63 thousand Nieuwegeiners.
There is probably still some stretch in the elastic, but how long can you keep the half and whole lockdowns here? ‘It will be gloomy holidays’, predicts Nathalie, before taking her last toke.
‘I don’t know if I can still keep this up,’ says Ann Willemse in her empty coffee and gift shop in Vreeswijk, the former village that still obstructs the merger into Nieuwegein of 49 years ago. Around her are the boxes full of Christmas items that she had to order in February. Now the holidays are approaching and she fears she will never lose them.
She worked as a nurse for twenty years when she started her shop Knus with Ann. She still does not regret that choice, but the financial situation is becoming increasingly dire due to corona. Since March she has not been able to give herself a salary, because the turnover no longer allows it.
Although she also serves coffee, tea and sandwiches, she makes no claim to the support package for the catering industry: her gift shop is primarily registered as a shop with the Chamber of Commerce.
But it is mainly the lack of perspective that worries her. ‘During the first corona wave I noticed that it was easier for me to get energy from things. There was always something to look forward to: summer, the holidays. Now there is nothing. Yes, King’s Day, but that is really very far away. ‘
Crowds at the hair salon
A little further on, the fear of a new lockdown is also well within the staff and customers of Haarstudio Chantal. When the latest RIVM figures are announced every day around 2 pm, hairdresser Lianne Berkulo’s heart pounds. ‘Lower it, I think. Every day again.’
The salon is packed almost every day, but it remains exciting. ‘People call us to see if they can be cut sooner. They are afraid that Rutte will say on Tuesday that everything will be locked again. ‘
For Berkulo, Corona felt like “something from a long way away,” until the virus struck her family five times. A 77-year-old uncle ended up on the ic. ‘We had already arranged everything for the funeral.’
The uncle recovered, but Berkulo is unsure. “As a barbershop, should you stay open if the numbers keep on rising?”
Model building specialist Wetronic is one of the few shops in Dorpsstraat that manages to escape the crisis. “Sitting at home leads to new insights,” smiles salesman Ruben van de Bruinhorst. They saw it in the figures: turnover tripled at the end of March, especially through the webshop. Customers spend 300 or 400 euros here for a radio-controlled monster truck.
Yet Ann Willemse wonders which stores in Vreeswijk will survive the winter. Because of all the successive measures, she no longer dares to assume anything. ‘I intend to be happy with every day that I have a turnover. However little that is. ‘