‘It seems crazy to me that people are not wearing masks’

Internationals anxious about laid-back Dutch

‘It seems crazy to me that people aren’t wearing masks’

International students are concerned about the general negligence behind the recent increase of coronavirus cases in Groningen. While their families face lockdowns and severe restrictions around the globe, the Stadjers seem unfazed. ‘It’s as if corona never existed here.’
By Alessandro Tessari
22 September om 12:50 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 22 November 2020
om 16:21 uur.
September 22 at 12:50 PM.
Last modified on November 22, 2020
at 16:21 PM.

When psychology student Violeta Ricoy Roig arrived from Spain three weeks ago, she was shocked by the vast difference in people’s behaviour between the EU countries. ‘In Spain, but even in Belgium, where my boyfriend lives, people seem much more concerned about corona. Everyone wears a face mask’, she says. The ‘carelessness’ in the Netherlands makes her anxious, especially in supermarkets and when she visits the city centre. She’s not the only one who feels this way.

Confused and worried

‘It seems crazy to me that people aren’t wearing masks in restaurants and cafes, not even waiters’, says Monique Gilpin, a media studies student from Australia. Her family in Melbourne is facing a second lockdown. Just one person at a time can leave the house and only for one hour. They have to stay within a five-kilometre zone around their house and they have to wear masks everywhere. ‘My family is confused and worried about the situation here. They struggle to understand how everything is so laid-back.’

With so few precautions taken, she’s not really surprised the number of confirmed cases in Groningen has risen. But she’s more apprehensive about the general conduct of students here. Monique hasn’t seen her family since January. ‘If things get worse, I might not even go back for Christmas.’

International business student Carlo Vincenzini also doesn’t want to get stuck in Groningen because of the ‘poor measures’ here. He was on lockdown for two months with his family in Bahrain, and that was more than enough. ‘I am anxious about being isolated again, but when I look at how people behave here, it’s as if corona never existed.’

Stricter measures

Carlo thinks masks should be obligatory in restaurants and supermarkets, too, not just in public transport. ‘Wherever there is a risk of having more than ten people in a limited space.’

Hassan Al Ameer, medicine student from Saudi Arabia, agrees. ‘Current restrictions are not enough’, he says. ‘We need more.’ Wearing a mask is just being responsible and thinking of the people around you, he says. ‘I understand that nobody really knows what to do, that these are unprecedented times, but I want people and institutions to take action. Otherwise the situation in Groningen and the Netherlands could get much worse rapidly.’



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