Living with the corona restrictions
‘My bubble has become even smaller’
Gwen (21) checks her phone. ‘Oh shit, it’s a quarter to 9 already.’ She looks at her friend, a question in her eyes. They’re hanging out on the couch and drinking beer, and they’re not ready to go home. There’s just one problem: the curfew starts at 9.
What to do? ‘Just stay. You can sleep on the couch’, Gwen’s friend says.
It’s quite the dilemma: going home early when you’re having a good time, or staying over and taking a chance on the couch. Gwen ultimately picks the latter.
Dennis (a pseudonym) went for a third option: ignoring the curfew and risk getting a fine. He got away with it a bunch of times, but last week, his luck ran out: the police stopped him on his way to a party. ‘That sucked, obviously. 95 euros is a lot, I couldn’t really afford it.’
The corona restrictions are having a negative impact on many students. They see their friends less, they can’t go out drinking, and their classes are all online. The far-reaching measures affect their daily lives.
This includes Esmee (20), who lives with two roommates she barely sees. They only ever talk about practical stuff like cleaning or buying toilet paper. ‘The only person I see right now is my girlfriend’, says Esmee. ‘I’m having a tough time seeing so few people. I’m feeling pretty lonely.’
We get tested a lot to minimise the risk
She’s very happy to be in a relationship. ‘At least I have someone to talk to.’ Her girlfriend is fairly strict in following the rules. ‘We make sure to always talk about it.’
While they each have their own room, they practically live together. ‘We keep moving back and forth between our rooms. When we have class, we each retreat to our own room.’ Esmee hasn’t met up with friends in two months, and she usually rejects any invitations she gets. ‘It is what it is. Fortunately, my room is really big and nice.’
Dennis doesn’t want to be too hard on himself. ‘I’d rather pay 95 euros for a few fun nights than sit in my room getting lonely.’ He and his friends would usually plan their route very carefully when they broke curfew, but they got careless. ‘We cycled through the city centre just this once. And then we ran into an undercover police car. That sucked.’
He’s not too strict on how many people he lets into his house, either. He lives with ten other guys, and it’s not unlikely for this number to double when friends are over. ‘But we get tested a lot, to minimise the risk.’
The inhabitants of Villa Kremlin try to enforce the rules as much as they can. Eline (21) lives with sixteen roommates, which makes it difficult to have just one visitor a day at the house.
We just meet up at 5 instead of 7
‘It’s basically impossible, but we try to take it into account as much as possible.’ People use the group chat or the house calendar to indicate that they’re expecting a visitor. Partners coming over doesn’t count as a visit. ‘Sometimes, there are too many people in the house at the same time, and then we have a house meeting about that the next day. It’s not easy, since some people don’t follow the rules as strictly as others.’
They have a house meeting every Tuesday. When it overlaps with a press conference by Mark Rutte and Hugo de Jonge, they discuss what the restrictions mean for their situation. ‘It’s nice that the house is so big, because it means my roommates can stay out of the way of my visitors. But it can be difficult to schedule things around the curfew.’
Gwen is struggling, too. ‘My schedule isn’t as spontaneous. You have to plan everything.’ She spends more time at home these days. ‘My bubble was pretty small already, but the curfew has only made it smaller.’ She still sees her friends, though. ‘We just meet up at 5 rather than at 7.’
Occasionally, when she’s having a really good time, Gwen might sleep on someone’s couch. ‘But only once or twice, not several nights a week.’
What about Dennis? He’s laying low for a little bit. ‘But if they extend the curfew again, there’s a good chance I’ll take the risk again.’