Dutch cannabis users had something to cheer today when the country re-opened its famous ‘coffee shops’ just two days after shutting them over coronavirus fears.
The weed suppliers will now be open for takeaway purchases during Holland’s virus lockdown after a Dutch government U-turn on Monday night.
Cannabis smokers had queued around the block to stockpile cannabis when the ban was initially announced on Sunday, putting a twist on the usual search for pasta and toilet paper.
However, another Dutch institution – the sex clubs and brothels of Amsterdam’s red-light district – will remain closed until April 6.
The coffee shops were re-opening today after the Dutch government revised its quarantine measures on Monday night.
Authorities feared that closing the coffee shops completely would promote the drug trade on the streets.
However, consuming cannabis at the cafes themselves – which often have a special ventilated room for customers to smoke their joints – will be banned during the lockdown.
The queues built up within minutes on Sunday after the Dutch health and education ministers gave a televised press conference announcing the closure of many businesses, along with all Dutch schools.
Customers in Amsterdam, Eindhoven, Utrecht and the Hague lined up in their dozens to stock up for what could be a lengthy quarantine.
‘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,’ one cannabis buyer in the Hague said.
‘My friend called me like five minutes ago, he saw the press conference – good friend,’ the Dutch shopper called Jonathan said.
‘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,’ said an Irish woman who gave her name as Hannah as she queued in the Hague.
‘I was literally just watching the press conference with my flatmate and then I just went downstairs and suddenly there’s this queue of like 30 people, and all these cars arriving as well now.’
Separate queues also built up at Roermond near the border with Germany, amid fears that the German government would shut its borders with the Netherlands next.
Germany has already introduced strict controls for those arriving from France, Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Denmark from Monday.
Cannabis is technically illegal in the Netherlands, but it decriminalised the possession of less than 0.18 ounces in 1976 under a so-called ‘tolerance’ policy.
Dutch health officials said today that the country’s coronavirus death toll had nearly doubled overnight to 43, while 1,705 people have now been infected.