Protesting health restrictions

Dutch museums transformed into barbershops and gyms

  • Sports and haircuts in museums.

    Reuters

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Dozens of museums and concert halls were temporarily transformed into hair salons and gyms across the Netherlands, the day before yesterday, in protest against health restrictions imposed on the cultural sector. A barber and two nail artists looked after the visitors among priceless works of art at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, while two barbers set up their chairs on the stage of the Concertgebouw, the capital's most prominent concert hall. The Dutch cultural sector denounces the continuous closure of cultural institutions, while restrictions have been lifted on shops and "professions that require direct contact with others", such as barbers and nail salons.

Dutch authorities issued warnings to some of the 70 websites that participated in the symbolic movement on Wednesday. "We wanted to make it clear that it is safe to visit the museum and we must open our doors," Van Gogh Museum director Emily Gordenker told AFP. "We were expecting to get an ultimatum at some point, and then we'll have to close, but we really wanted to make that point clear," she added.

One of Al-Hallaq's customers confirmed that he came to the place in defense of culture. Max Smith, 32, said, "I think that large institutions such as large open spaces, including for example the Van Gogh Museum, should be able to reopen their doors," considering that opening museums constitutes a "reasonable" risk in the face of the epidemic. In a location not far from the museum, the Concert Gebau Hall witnessed a similar activity, during which two barbers wearing a mask cut their hair on stage, while the Second Symphony Orchestra of Charles Iver played. "After two years of patience and a consistently constructive attitude, it is time to approach the cultural sector with a fair perspective," said hall director Simon Renink. Fitness classes were also offered at the Mauritshuis Museum in The Hague, which houses Vermeer's famous "Girl with a Pearl Earring".

These steps come in the wake of civil disobedience in the Netherlands' bars and restaurants to protest the restrictions imposed to combat the outbreak of the Corona virus, which are among the most stringent in Europe.

The government stresses the necessity of caution despite the decrease in the number of hospitalizations due to “Covid-19” in the Netherlands, in light of the record numbers of new people infected with the virus as a result of the outbreak of the “Omicron” mutant.

• The Dutch cultural sector denounces the continuous closure of cultural institutions, while restrictions have been lifted on shops and “professions that require direct contact with others,” such as barbers and nail salons.

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