Cannabis cafes in the city of Amsterdam are being overrun as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak currently sweeping the globe. Dutch residents across the country are stocking up on all of the essentials: toilet paper, groceries, and medications. And for many, that list also includes cannabis. This is after Holland shut down coffee shops for two days before re-opening them earlier this week.
In response to last week’s ban, announced at 5:30 pm on Sunday to be enacted that same night, people rushed to the coffee shops to buy marijuana in bulk, leading to the formation of long lines outside of cannabis cafes across the city.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, public health officials are warning residents to self-isolate in their homes, and social distancing has become the new reality, at least for the foreseeable future. Cafes will now be allowed to sell cannabis for pickup and delivery; however, Amsterdam’s red-light district is still set to be closed for the next several weeks.
Customers were lined up outside a café called The Point in The Hague. Several spoke to AFP News, including Dutch resident Jonathan, saying, “For maybe for the next two months we’re not able to get some weed so it should be nice to at least have some in the house. A friend called me like five minutes ago, he saw the press conference – good friend.”
An Irish woman named Hannah told AFP, “I wouldn’t mind having a little bit of weed – keep it easy while we’re at home for so long. It might be a long time in quarantine. I was literally just watching the press conference with my flatmate and then I just walked downstairs and suddenly there’s this queue of like 0 people, and all these cars arriving as well now.”
As the lines outside of cannabis cafes continued to grow, many turned to Twitter for comic relief.
Toilet paper, hand sanitizer and face masks? These people stand in line to buy weed ahead of the Netherlands #COVID19 lockdown. pic.twitter.com/l75SnSZ3wT
Jaap Visser Tweeted, “Wow, everywhere in The Netherlands are big lines at the #coffeeshop to get the latest marijuana. Due to the lockdown all coffeeshops need to close in a few minutes. #COVID19NL #Coronavirusnl.”
In a press conference last Sunday, Dutch Health Minister Bruno Bruins made an “urgent appeal” to viewers, cautioning residents not to stock-pile and saying, “Do not hoard. It is not necessary.” Unfortunately, as more people fall ill with the virus, it is likely that further actions will have be taken on the part of the Dutch government in order to compel people to stay home.
Health Minister Bruins recently told Reuters, “I am certain these will not be our last measures, the situation keeps developing very rapidly and I keep deciding on further measures based on the knowledge of experts. I cannot speculate on what measures these will be, but it is clear that more will follow.”