We Can Learn from how Amsterdam Coped with Coronavirus, for our Children’s Sake

We Americans can learn from how other places have addressed the pandemic. This video shows what Amsterdam looked like when the shutdowns began early this year. Let me appeal to those of you who remain Trump supporters: please, please put aside the politics and take three minutes to watch this video. In March and April, Amsterdam was locked down. People wore masks, socially distanced, and didn’t leave their homes for anything but what they needed, including long, solitary walks.


This video’s title, “Geen hond op straat,” literally, “No dog on the street,” is a Dutch expression that means the streets are deserted.

My wife and I were in Amsterdam at the time. We’ve been going there every year for the past twenty years, usually twice a year for two months at a time. This time, we spent five months there, beginning in mid-February.

We  returned to America on July 11. When we left, Amsterdam was easing its restrictions. Restaurants and schools were opening, with appropriate distancing at all times, and only partially full. Children were back in school. The city isn’t out of the woods yet. This is an incredibly difficult virus, as we all know. But case numbers are way down to manageable levels. You can look it up for yourself.

The Netherlands and nearly every other country in Europe did it the right way. We didn’t. Donald Trump and his political supporters in power—senators and people in the White House—made the pandemic a political thing. Now the pandemic is out of control. We have almost 5 million reported cases, and scientists tell us there are many times that number. We have over 150,000 deaths, that number climbing rapidly. And all Donald Trump can do is lie, attack everyone who disagrees with him, try to stop us from voting, and tweet “Open the Schools!” So we will kill our children too.

I don’t know anything about Dutch politics. I believe the Netherlands government is regarded as center-right. Moderately conservative, in other words. We have many Dutch friends, mostly people you would consider liberals. Not one of them had a bad word to say about their government. It managed the pandemic beautifully: no politics; just science.

However much you might love Donald Trump, he’s proven time and again, that he can’t manage a two-car funeral. Management? Attention to detail? Trusting experts? Taking responsibility for tough choices? Those are just not his thing. Now, half a year into this crisis, we still don’t have a national plan!

Please, folks, step back from this disaster. Write your Republican Senator. Tell him or her to do something now! Donald Trump has become the single worst obstacle to our recovery from this plague. It may be necessary to make our cities look like Amsterdam did at the beginning of the plague. To start over again. But if the scientists tell us that’s the only way we can survive, let’s do it. Let’s do it for our kids, if not for ourselves.

Neil Fabricant


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One Response

  1. This is a lovely, poignant look at how a beautiful old city, normally bustling with residents, tourists, people of all kinds, shut down when the pandemic hit. And yet it also shows how a well-governed nation, with honest, competent leadership, managed to mitigate the worst of both public-health and economic harm.

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