Admittedly, ten to nine is the worst time to start meeting people. “I’m in a hurry,” says someone, half jogging, half walking. An elderly woman looks at her watch while walking. “No time” apologized. “I have to go home.”
“Now I’m going to run”
Moreover, the pedestrian walkway along Utrechtse Singel is empty. Very empty. She’s the only one working now, and still has some time, that’s Ann. She also checks her cell phone to check the time – five minutes before her entry – but that’s possible for some time. “My house is just around the corner.”
It came from a friend, and they ate there, they started early. “It’s weird that there are limits to our evenings,” Anne says. Another look at her phone. “And now I’m going to run anyway.”
Liza and Tjalling think it’s quieter on the street now than it was yesterday at this time. The couple walks the evening along the water every evening, this time a little earlier than usual. “It’s really crazy,” says Tjalling. “This walking path is usually an epidemic amusement park, it’s always crowded. And now you see people are walking faster, they’re in a hurry, and there are no groups of young men hanging around making noise.”
Silence before the storm
It feels, he says, almost old and new. People are hurrying to the house. Silence before the storm.
Suddenly, somewhere, no clue of where, sounds seem. There is a countdown timer. ten! nine! Eight … then the steeple hears it: 9 pm. For the first time since World War II, there is a curfew in the Netherlands, not because of a war between armies and nations, but because of a war against a virus.
Watch how the curfew began in the rest of the Netherlands. The article continues after the video.
There is a crackle, fireworks, and flash of light in the clear sky. A boy roars from the window of his two-story apartment: “Yes! Everyone goes home !!”
Patrick hears and smiles. The student lives on the street here, yes, he hears the bells in the steeple as well, and yes, he has to go in immediately after this interview. “I just had lasagna with a friend, we watched a movie, and it really ended ten minutes before the curfew.” Well thought out, because it’s also a ten minute drive from Patrick.
Quieter than midnight
He enters and closes the door behind him. And this is actually the moment, a few minutes after nine, when the weather is calm in Utrecht. Calmer than midnight, because now the city has to dispense with youth groups, without people walking, without evening athletes.
Johan describes it as “a little scary.” Dog Sansa is Yohan’s license to take to the streets. He usually always runs his last lap at 8 pm, now after curfew. “I wanted to try this sometimes,” he says. “It’s unrealistic. I’ve lived in Utrecht for years, but it was never quiet.”
Suddenly you hear everything
“People disappeared like snow under the sun,” says taxi driver Maimon. He’s waiting for clients, but he suspects he’s going on another flight tonight. The evening will likely be where you roll your thumbs, watch videos on his phone, listen to the radio – killing the silence.
Beating: You suddenly hear things that you wouldn’t normally notice in a noisy city. An empty beer can rolled over cobblestones. The ticking of traffic lights (now suddenly unnecessary due to the lack of traffic). People who close their window. Cyclists who lock their bikes.
There is no dog on the street
Like Roy, he carries the well-known orange cubic bag from employer Thuisbezorgd on his back. And with the statement of the employer on his phone. “Just to be on the safe side, I carry it with me,” he says. It has not been checked yet. “I love cycling and doing this,” he smiled. “Attentive. There is no dog in the street. I can easily drive everywhere.”
This dog isn’t quite right. It is precisely the owner of a dog who walks through town in dead comfort, Fikkie’s bowel movement suddenly gives him freedom that dogs don’t have.
Anyone walking on the street without a dog can be examined by the police at the center. Police officers drive around one of Utrecht’s main streets in cars and bikes. Your correspondents are also monitored by a proxy.
The officer said, “Without a statement, you will be fined, madam.” Strict look, big steps. But there was an explanation for that there was no fine. Whether too much was actually delivered, the officer was unable or unwilling to say.
I just finished the evening shift
A young woman is checked on the bike path, as she takes her statement out of her backpack: She works for Altrecht Care, and has just left an evening shift. In Neude, Niko is waiting for his bus, he is the owner of a restaurant. “I am legally outside the law,” he said, waving his statement. Not long on my bus ride. He is the only passenger.
It is completely empty at Utrecht Central Station. Noah, a business security guard who has just finished his shift, takes a picture of himself with his iPhone. “It’s strange,” he says. “This is something you’ll know in three or four years.” Two officers arrived and did not verify but asked if there was an explanation.
Noah nodded from behind his face mask, which suddenly seemed unnecessary in an abandoned station.
No groups, parties, or walkers
The longer you delay, the quieter the city. There are no youth groups, no parties, and no evening walkers. It is ticking 10 pm. The sound reverberates over the water, over the canals, reverberates against the houses.
The calm that prevailed prior to the curfew before the storm did not subside. There was no storm. It was silence for a greater silence.