Enschede vs Groningen: The student cities show different reactions to the curfew

Source: https://www.iamexpat.nl/expat-info/dutch-expat-news/anti-coronavirus-protests-and-riots-across-netherlands

Netherlands has implemented some of the toughest measures to fight against the virus since the start of the pandemic, including the recently added curfew on the 23rd of January; however, two student cities like Enschede and Groningen had distinct reactions to all these strict regulations.

After the Dutch government tightened the rules even more by shutting off schools and non-essential shops in December, Dutch lawmakers also decided to approve Rutte’s curfew scheme which was set to start at 9 p.m.

As reactions from some cities across Netherlands have resulted in riots, two student cities such as Enschede and Groningen have had fairly different responses regarding the issue.

In Enschede there was an attack on Sunday night at the Medisch Spectrum Twente hospital as rioters tried to smash the windows of the emergency department and going as far as to even throw fireworks at the building.

“I think that the MST has been attacked because it is somewhat on the route from the biggest ‘Clubbing/Pubbing’ square of Enschede to the biggest ‘Shopping’ Square (From the Oude Markt to the Van Heek Plein); as one of the few cities in the Netherlands, we have our Hospital in the city centre”, said Yorick Moleman who is a Student Policy Advisor at the municipality of Enschede.

Moleman isn’t sure of the main reason as to why people attacked the hospital in the first place. “The exact reason why people attacked the MST is unclear to me. I think part of the rioters are COVID-19 tired; they are tired of all regulations and do have a sombre outlook of the future or they might have lost their jobs/studies; they might think that the regulations are not in line with the amount of COVID-19 patients. Others did not necessarily agree to the protest but they were there just to riot because they were bored and thought that this could be fun”.

The Northern Netherlands, including Groningen, generally stayed away from any riots as people complied with the regulations and the ‘controversial’ curfew. In Groningen there were no violent protests reported and people seem to be peacefully following the regulations.

“Generally, I think the measures are good. Although, I wish they would be more responsive and not add more and more measurements over time; there should be a one time statement for clarity with all measurements”, said Floris Witte, a student at Hanze University of Applied Sciences in Groningen.

“I find the riots useless but understandable when people lose their jobs and are restricted more and more over time; tensions tend to build up a lot this way”, said Lisa Veldman, a resident of Groningen.

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