Yesterday, the Dutch government announced the imposition of stricter measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus in the Netherlands, lasting till June 1 (at the least). This means that Remembrance Day and Liberation Day in May will be cancelled, well at least in the form that we know.
Remembrance Day is held on May 4, and is a somber occasion in that it is meant to honour all Dutch casualties that occurred during the time period, in conflicts throughout the world. The following Day, May 5 is Liberation Day– the name speaks for itself. The occasion marks an end of Nazi occupation in the Netherlands.
75 years since the end of the war
This year is an important one: It marks 75 years since the end of the Second World War. Each five years, the day is dubbed a national holiday- meaning schools and businesses are closed in order to recognise and commemorate the role of the Netherlands in the war. The news naturally comes as a disappointment for those who have lived through the 75 years since. But it is this group that is one of the most vulnerable to the virus.
Dodenherdenking op 4 mei zou dit jaar extra bijzonder zijn omdat het 75 jaar geleden is dat Nederland werd bevrijd. In Dronten kan het niet doorgaan vanwege de coronamaatregelen. https://t.co/uAhv1tNaJK
— Omroep Flevoland (@OmroepFlevoland) March 23, 2020
What will take place?
A national committee is in charge of organising events and has said that commemorative events on Remembrance day will still take place in Dam Square – but without an audience, but probably with the King. All Liberation Day events will be cancelled.
Although the exact program is uncertain, what is known is that King Willem-Alexander will give a speech on Remembrance Day, and that special attention will be drawn to the veterans.
One could say though that, now more than ever, remembering the past and sacrifices for our freedom is more important than ever. We’ll find a way to do this from our homes.
New measures in the Netherlands
Following in the footsteps of Germany, the Dutch cabinet announced a new set of regulations which include the cession of all public gatherings – including events with less than 100 people.
Additionally, a distance of 1.5 meters must be kept from others in a group of three or more people (not including family). Ignoring this measure can lead to a fine of up to 400 euros. Children are still allowed to play outside.
As of now the Netherlands has an emergency ordinance under place, according to nu.nl, which allows them to act quickly and more easily. This means that areas such as beaches, parks and campsites can be shut down at any moment.
For now, schools and businesses will be closed till April 6. But seeing how things are going perhaps this time will be elongated. In the meantime college and universities are advised to switch to online classes.
The final straw
The ministers decided upon these measures because the previous ones were not being taken seriously by the public- a mass alert was issued on Sunday to warn people to keep a distance of 1.5 meters and to stay indoors. But many overlooked this advice. The hope is that these new measures will be adhered to in order to mitigate the speed at which the virus is spreading.
How do you normally commemorate May 4 and 5? How shall we remember it in these times? Let us know in the comments.
Feature Image: Onderwijsgek/Wikimedia Commons