Why young people do (or do not) adhere to the coronavirus measures

Young people is increasing fastest in the Netherlands. That is why safety regions are trying to reach them and alert them to the measures in force with special campaigns.

But ‘the young people’ are all working on the measures in a different way. We talked to some of them: why do they stick to the measures or not?

“I run a shack and it hasn’t been a party lately. We have been closed since February, because we don’t have enough space and ventilation to receive people. This weekend we finally organized another party, but that was at a friend’s place in a big barn. We put up bar tables and disinfectant. I didn’t drink myself to really maintain.”

“I can see that not all chains are like this. Sometimes I see videos pass by from places where it is packed. In a way I still understand that. We have few infections here and around me I see a lot of corona fatigue. Receiving a maximum of six people at home, also feels crooked when you’re standing between a lot more in the supermarket.”

“The other day I drove home and I saw ten old people sitting very close together. Then, as a young person, you think: what am I doing it for? In my work as a plumber I see it too. Elderly people sit next to me at half a metre when I’m tinkering under their sink. It’s not that I’m afraid of it myself, but I really want to rule out contaminating my grandmother. So I still stick to the measures, except with a few good friends. That’s a bit closer, but I’ve been seeing them since February.”

“Since the beginning of June it has been difficult for us to maintain it in the supermarket. In the beginning of the outbreak, things went well: we maintained the number of people inside and that was respected. But now people are a lot less strict with the measures that are still in place. When I point out to adult people in particular that they are still obliged to bring a trolley or basket and have to keep to the walking direction, I sometimes get fierce accusations in my head. Sometimes I even get into a fight. We have had to put people outside several times.”

“Partly because I’m so busy with measures at work, I also maintain them fairly strictly outside. I don’t go out to dinner and I don’t go to the cafe, because I want to avoid risks. But if I walk home from work along a square and see people just cuddling there, I am irritated. At first I had a tendency to say something about it, but now I think: you’ve been doing it for so long now, it doesn’t make sense anymore.”

“A while ago I had a party with friends. I was cautious because I knew it was not allowed, we still thought: ‘we should close the curtains. But then suddenly the police were at the door. A fine of 400 euros. This made me realise that those measures are not logical at all. I decided to start stop-de-lockdown.nl.”

“I organize and still go to parties with other young people. No one actually adheres to the measures there. I don’t think the government understands how young people think about the policy. I think a distinction should be made between the risk group and the non-risk group. Give the at-risk group protection and the rest freedom. There are enough figures to support the fact that almost only people in the at-risk group die of corona. So why should the whole society be locked up?”

“In the Netherlands we don’t ban everything that makes someone sick. Cigarettes and alcohol are also sold in supermarkets, while a lot of people die as a result, right? Yes, buying these products is a choice, but follow the measures is also a choice. Then the vulnerable can say: I make the choice to protect myself and the rest can continue normal life.”

“I’ve had five years of depression, but since last September it finally went well again. And then came, fries boom, the corona-lockdown. My head said: now you can’t do anything. You have to wash your hands a hundred times, you can’t go to the supermarket anymore. That’s just how I’m programmed.”

“Meanwhile, I had to work from home as a customer service manager, where people were becoming increasingly impatient in tone. This resulted in negativity from work, from the news and little positivity from my surroundings because I became more and more isolated. I really collapsed at the end of April, when it turned out that the measures would take even longer. Partly because of my boyfriend, I realised then that it couldn’t go on like this.”

“I decided to go to his dorm more often, which brought me back to a small group of people. Then I realized: I also have a place in this world. Instead of hiding, I now just walk past people on the street from a distance. Meanwhile I got my diploma and recently we went out to dinner with family and friends. That was just a little splurge for me.”

“With a chronic inflammation of my colon and immune suppressing medication I belong to the risk group. In March I therefore received a letter from the hospital with additional advice: don’t do your own shopping, rather keep 2 rather than 1.5 metres away, under no circumstances travel by public transport. So I’ve been on edge right from the start, especially since I’m in the hospital regularly in the vicinity of other people who are at risk.”

“So I’m very strict, which was socially awkward. For 2.5 months I have hardly seen anyone. Meanwhile I dare a little more, last time I sat outside on the terrace with friends. I don’t drink myself and immediately see that people get looser with alcohol. Especially at the toilet they hardly keep any distance. That it can go wrong if it gets too cozy, I have now seen for myself. I understand in that respect that Rutte addressed young people so directly.”

“You see such one-sided news in the media. Then the number of infections is shared, but not the number of people who have recovered. It’s scaremongering. If you just eat healthy food and exercise you have a healthy body, a healthy immune system and you can handle the virus better. This should also be stimulated by politicians.”