‘I no longer participate’: Dutch celebrities rebel over Covid constraints | Netherlands

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They are young, famous and refusing to abide by the coronavirus restrictions. A group of Dutch celebrities have triggered both a sizeable backlash and a national debate after breaking cover on social media with the hashtag #ikdoenietmeermee, (I no longer participate).

The central figure is the rapper and model Famke Louise, 21, who told her 1 million Instagram followers she was no longer willing to go along with the growing number of restrictions designed to slow the spread of the virus. “Only together can we regain control of the government,” she said. “I no longer participate. Free the people.

Louise, who earlier in the pandemic had taken part in a government advert promoting adherence to coronavirus rules, has been joined in her protest by the hip hop star Bizzey, 35, and the singers Tim Douwsma, 32, and Thomas Berge, 30, among others.

“We are no longer keeping our mouths shut,” the celebrities say in their videos, a reference to comments by the prime minister, Mark Rutte’s, that cheering football fans “just had to shut up” to avoid spreading the virus.

“Our elderly are being forgotten, our economy is on the verge of collapse, human behaviour is being criminalised,” the celebrities say.

To a backdrop of criticism of the Dutch government’s handling of the crisis, the charge against Rutte was a lack of “honesty and transparency” about the effectiveness of face masks and the 1.5-metre social distancing rule. Louise said she would be “saying no to all measures until the government can verifiably justify those policies”.

When the pandemic began, the Dutch government tried to avoid the extensive restrictions elsewhere in Europe, describing its policy as an “intelligent lockdown”. The public appeared to respond well to advice rather than rules. But in recent weeks there has been a worrying resurgence of the disease, leading to regional clampdowns on social activities in an attempt to slow the spread. For the first time since the start of the crisis, earlier this week the Netherlands recorded more than 2,000 new infections in a single day.

Mark Rutte in the Hague last week
Mark Rutte in the Hague last week: ‘This is a rotten time for young people.’ Photograph: Bart Maat/AFP/Getty

The government has placed six regions at “risk level 2” and ordered cafes to close at midnight. A further eight regions are likely to be hit with extra restrictions in the coming days. “This is a rotten time for young people,” Rutte said.

The motivations of the #ikdoenietmeermee campaign have been heavily criticised in some quarters, with suggestions that financial losses caused by the closure of live events lie behind it.

The health minister, Hugo de Jonge, responded on Twitter with his own hashtag #ikdoewelmee, (I do participate). “In order for healthcare to last, we have to participate – all of us”, he said.

Klaas Dijkhoff, the chairman of the parliamentary group of the ruling centre-right VVD party, tweeted that “the virus is not a game that you can stop for a while”. The Labour party leader, Lodewijk Asscher, called the celebrities’ campaign “completely wrong”.

Responding to the criticism, Louise denied she wanted to underplay the dangers of coronavirus to public health, but said she had intended to spark a debate about how best to handle the virus. She said: “I don’t know if I would use this hashtag again, but I wonder if I would have achieved the same if I had used a different hashtag. Apparently you have to use a hashtag like that to get the attention.”

Source: The Guardian
Keyword: ‘I no longer participate’: Dutch celebrities rebel over Covid constraints | Netherlands

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