City of Utrecht Letter mayor about coronavirus, April 7

April 7, 2020

Dear Utrechters,

Empty schoolyards, shopping areas where you can hear a pin drop and terrace chairs piled up everywhere, and the most beautiful spring weather. It is and remains an unusual contrast. The fact that disinfected shopping carts are the new norm in the supermarkets is something I could get used to, but at the same time, all these things remain unreal.

The measures, the Prime Minister said on Tuesday evening, will remain in effect for the next four weeks. And there's a good reason for that. My heart goes out to doctors, nurses and employees working in home care and at nursing homes. They are now often working double shifts and continue to  care  for  the health of the people of Utrecht - knowing that they could also become ill. And teachers who are staying digitally connected to the girls and boys in the class and doing their best to continue teaching. They are today's heroes. As are the women and men that monitor the public spaces in the city and our safety region.

Everyone knows someone who has been personally affected or is even ill. Call Utrecht residents who are infected with the coronavirus. While some individuals are (very understandably) concerned or still feel ill and others try to stay positive, some are perhaps even ready to go back to work (whether or not from home). It is admirable how they and their environment are getting through this.

I'm impressed with their care for their environment and loved ones. 'I'm okay' they assure me, 'but I'm so worried about ...'. Because now they cannot be with their sick mother in the north of the country or a father who lives alone.

The deserted streets, schoolyards and parks prove that most take the coronavirus seriously. You keep your distance, avoid groups and work at home or teach the children at home. And - unfortunately - no visits from family and friends or the children's party that your child had been looking forward to for months.

And the beautiful spring weather doesn't make it any easier either. But most of you resist temptation because you know these measures are there to protect us all. Together we can flatten the curve, so that everyone in healthcare can continue to do their job well. It takes a lot of self-discipline and the courage to talk to each other about it. We have that, and I would like to compliment everyone.

I also have a lot of appreciation for all Utrecht residents who continue their lives as usual despite everything. And are there for others. Volunteering at a food bank, delivering meals to people who have difficulty walking, or calling elderly people for a friendly chat. Children who craft presents or write a card to their grandfather or grandmother, make music or sing at a nursing home. In one word, heartwarming. You, who, despite everything stay positive, follow the guidelines (no matter how difficult), look after each other, and are there for people who need your help and attention - perhaps more than ever: you are all in your own way 'heros'.

That gives me hope and confidence that we as a city, we Utrechters, will get through this difficult time together.

Stay positive. Take care of yourselves, be mindful of others and be kind to each other. Let's take good care of our city together.

With warm regards,

Jan van Zanen

Mayor of Utrecht