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Corona and Amersfoort: that is how the “most normal city” in the country deals with the rules

Last weekend, the tightened corona measures applied for the first time in the Netherlands. For Amersfoort, this means no spectators on the football fields, no shouting in the theater and no singing in the church. But the people from Amersfoort find something to be done within the lines.

The long list of staff members who accompany the first team of VOP during the Amersfoort derby against KVVA, raises some questions in the closed football canteen on Saturday afternoon. No fewer than three team managers, for an amateur team in the fourth class, the blue shirts sponsored by maintenance painter Dirk van de Kooij since this weekend?

Spectators are no longer welcome along the sports fields, volunteers who make themselves useful are. So suddenly a lot of new functions have been created in amateur sport. They certainly also have a physiotherapist and an injury doctor with them, it sounds scornfully, plus an assistant who holds the water bottles and someone for the clothes?

The fact is that all 27 men of VOP are neatly registered according to the rules of the union, and so a KVVA volunteer opens the iron chain around the fence to let the opponents with their entire entourage into the sports park.

Get creative with corona rules

It is the first weekend that the Netherlands sports, goes out and shops with the tightened corona measures. How creative are the rules in Amersfoort, the municipality that, through its own mayor, likes to claim to be the “most common city” in the country?

In the Flintplein car park in the city center, when a ticket is drawn, an “urgent advice” follows: put on a face mask. In the adjacent Flint Theater, event coordinator Tessa Harkema has to admit from behind her green mouth mask that it is not getting any nicer to visit a performance. “The bar is closed and afterwards everyone is escorted out by our employees as soon as possible. That’s not how you normally want to do your job, but we are very happy that we were able to stay open. ”

Sleepless nights at Badabounce

That decision only came on Thursday, when the Safety Region Utrecht announced that Flint Theater is seen as a hall “of great importance”, with an exception to the maximum number of visitors of thirty. They had sleepless nights at dance school Badabounce all week, says owner Jantina Klompenhouwer on stage a little later. The final street dance presentations, on which hundreds of children practiced so hard, were also canceled in June.

“Until last night we doubted whether we could let it go ahead,” says Klompenhouwer. “One thought we have too many rules, the other too few. But when you see the happy faces of the children today, you remember what you’re doing it for. ”

Holes in the choreos

There may be “some gaps in the choreos,” she warns just before the first teenagers in black leggings take to the stage. Quite a few parents decided to keep their child at home. Not so Marjanne van Panhuis, who is waiting in row 15 for the performance of her 12-year-old daughter. She was kind of taken by surprise by all those masks just in the foyer. “I just said I forgot mine.”

Moments later, Rituals van Tiësto blasts through the room and Van Panhuis picks up her phone to record the performance of her daughter’s group. One still hesitantly swaying his hip, others squirmed in full surrender as if they were auditioning for a video clip.

In the hall, where two seats have been left free between each duo, the atmosphere is forced to remain dull: clapping is allowed, but not shouting. A few ventures a cautiously admiring whistle at the end of a song.

Withheld Sunday service

Restrained emotion also characterizes the morning service in Kruispunt Vathorst on Sunday. This Amersfoort church is visited by ChristenUnie leader Gert-Jan Segers and received praise last week during Rutte’s press conference, as a church where everything is “very neatly” arranged in terms of “agreements that apply to singing and you name it”.

At Kruispunt, there appears to be a reservation app and a well-oiled routine of guiding red vests, walking directions, strategically placed seats and a ventilation system based on the most modern insights. Pastor Wim Quist emphatically pumps some disinfectant into his hands on the platform, before opening the Bible to Numbers 11, verse 4, in which the Lord is furious towards the complaining people in the desert.

Harteklop of the church

Music is the heartbeat of this church, board member Anne Marie Zwaan had said just before the start of the first service. But that is now a one-way street. When the band uses the song Jesus victorious, a number of believers have to make a visible effort not to raise the voice themselves. It remains with soft, noiseless swaying.

Kruispunt has opted to ban singing along for the time being, says coordinator Schelte Halma of the Workgroup 1.5 Meter. “According to the RIVM rules, singing here would be safe, because we have such good ventilation. Still, we prefer to be on the safe side. “According to Halma, it is balancing between opinions, where one church member would prefer to sing out loud and others feel so unsafe that they don’t dare to come. “And for us there is also a trade-off: can you explain it to the outside world?”

Scorn and misunderstanding

Not all churches seem to care. The Restored Reformed Church in Staphorst, for example, is reaping scorn and incomprehension this weekend by organizing services for six hundred members at a time, without a mask, with singing. “If you look at the size of their meetinghouse, they don’t do anything that isn’t allowed by the rules,” says Halma. “But you can also wonder how such a decision comes across. I think we would rather choose not to isolate ourselves too much from the rest of society. ”

That’s not to say the singing is not passionately missed. Board member Zwaan refers to the words of John Calvin, who said that singing leads the words like a funnel to the soul. Of course a sermon can also touch you, Halma agrees. “But the risk is that you will get stuck in the ratio. When you sing the same words, an extra dimension is added. ”

“Piece of atmosphere”

That extra dimension is now also missing on the KVVA football field, says Jeroen van Flier, although he talks more in terms of the lack of ‘a bit of atmosphere’. On the other hand, football sometimes evokes emotions that you can easily miss, he knows as a so-called volunteer volunteer, in which he helps to maintain safety at the club. When a father calls out to a son to kick the opponent in his head, Van Flier is there, for example, to calm down such a gentleman.

In that sense, the new measures also have advantages, he thinks. “You saw this morning with the youth that children took to the field more freely, without the pressure of mom or dad on the neck.”

KVVA secretary and canteen manager Martin Beauveser is less enthusiastic. The derby against VOP on Saturday afternoon would normally have been good for a few hundred men along the field and a euro or 3,000 in the club’s box office. “That is a lot of money for this association.”

Six pack from the scooter

Meanwhile, supporters of both teams are gathering in the parking lot. “The parking lot does not officially belong to the sports park,” says Beauveser. “So the ban on spectators does not apply there.” The atmosphere is still fine in the first half with a group that calls itself “the hard core of VOP”. “It’s a bit like being in jail,” Emre says about looking through a fence. His buddy Ilias has meanwhile climbed onto the bicycle shed to monitor the race better. Someone conjures a six-pack of Heineken from the loading compartment of a scooter.

Just before half-time, when VOP looks at a 1-0 deficit, a bald spectator hands a younger fellow supporter a banknote: “Get some extra beer.” They still need it. In the pouring rain, VOP is eventually lost by KVVA: 6-1.

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