SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Local safety board chief Hubert Bruls has called for organised ‘small scale’ New Year’s Eve celebrations for youngsters in order to avoid new outbreaks of coronavirus, the AD reported on Thursday.
Bruls told the paper in an interview he wants clarity from the government on what can be organised for young people as soon as possible. ‘Let’s not be naïve and think that if we tell people they can’t do something they will comply,’ he said.
‘If there are to be celebrations, we would prefer them to be organised and in the presence of youth workers or a local police officer. Otherwise it will turn into the wild west and I will need to ask wardens and police to fine all those people and that will be a huge policing challenge.’
Asked what sort of activities he had in mind, Bruls told the paper he was ’not in charge of entertainment.’ ‘I’ll leave the creative side to others, if you don’t mind. If people want to play bingo or sing it’s up to them.
As long as it’s small scale.’ Police and experts support the call. ‘It will help to organise activities, we know that from other years’, Gelderland police chief Aart Garssen told the paper.
However, the ban on gatherings and fireworks would not affect the number of officers out in the streets on New Year’s Eve, which would be ‘sizeable’, he said.
Meanwhile, lmost half of young people between 18 and 23 are feeling the effects of the coronavirus restrictions, research has shown. Many are feeling bored because they are unable to go to parties or see their friends.
This has culminated in scores of illegal parties across the country despite hefty fines. Criminologist Henk Ferwerda confirmed that the measures are tough on young people.
‘They are missing out on a lot. (..) Spending New Year’s Eve on the couch with their parents is not an option. They are dying for a party.’ Ferwerda said local councils would do well to involve the youngsters themselves in any planned activities.
‘They have to focus on involving those groups who are less vocal but tend to show risky behaviour,’ he said. The government has pledged to give more details about the options for Christmas and New Year by December 8.