Dutch museums and concert halls open in protest against covid restrictions

Museums and concert halls in the Netherlands opened briefly on Wednesday to protest their continued closure under a lockdown by covid-19, offering yoga sessions in front of paintings by Dutch masters and haircuts to the sound of a live symphony orchestra.

Last weekend, the Netherlands eased the month-long lockdown, allowing reopening of gyms, hairdressers and shops. But cultural spaces were ordered to remain closed to the public until at least January 25.

“I just don’t understand why the measures remain so strict, preventing cultural events from taking place,” said Alexandra Gerny, a personal mentor who couldn’t resist an invitation to fix her hair onstage while the Concertgebouw Orchestra played, from 130 years old.

“If you look at the rest of Europe, I wonder: why so cautious? I just don’t understand it. The damage caused by staying closed is much greater. It makes me very angry and that’s not so easy to do!”

Gerny was one of 50 people who attended the “Kapsalon Concertgebouw” hairdressing show, held against the rules that prohibit concerts with the public.

The guests wore masks and respected physical distance, while upon entry they checked their passes showing vaccination against covid-19, recovery from the disease or a negative test.

Famous museums across the Netherlands, from Amsterdam’s Van Gogh to Haarlem’s Frans Hals, have opened their doors at the risk of fines. Tai Chi sessions and nail salons were also offered to visitors.

Amsterdam Mayor Femke Halsema said she would “enforce” existing lockdown measures, but there was no sign officials were doing so.

In a Twitter message, the Minister of Culture, Gunay Uslu, was sympathetic to the protest, but asked for caution. “The cultural sector is drawing attention to their situation in a creative way. I understand the cry for help and that artists want to show all the beauty they have to offer us. But the opening of the society must go step by step. Culture is high on the agenda.” (Reporting by Anthony Deutsch; edited in Spanish by Benjamín Mejías Valencia)

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Dutch museums and concert halls open in protest against covid restrictions