All the navigators are ashore

Eduard Schaepman
8 Oct 2020

All the navigators are ashore

by Eduard Schaepman, on 8 Oct 2020

Lately it’s all about getting knocked down, recovering and starting again. It’s about surviving in a time of crisis, but since we don’t have a good leader, also in a time of chaos. We miss a leader who dares to make choices, who also dares to make mistakes, but who admits them, and then changes strategy if necessary. One who follows one clear path. When you list the past 7(!) months, I’m losing confidence…


The misery really started on the 15th of March, when the closure of schools, day-care, sports and fitness clubs, and catering establishments were announced, and the urgent message 'work at home' was proclaimed. Typical is the approach: to announce such a message on Sunday afternoon at 5.40 pm. I myself started calling all my people on Sunday afternoon, but remember that as a hospitality entrepreneur you were instructed to close 20 minutes later, at 6 pm. But at least, it was a plan. For a moment it looked like the Mark was the man who would lead us through this crisis, with only one goal in mind: group immunity. And to be honest, I, too, thought at that time: ‘strong speech, Mark'. We would try to avoid the feared lockdown or our neighboring countries, being the small country as we are, by focusing on group immunity.


So, all schools, restaurants and sports clubs closed their doors. We started Zooming, Skype, WhatsApping. At Tribes we also took the necessary measures: in the beginning we had confidence in the government. After that we heard 'stay at home, keep 1.5M distance and wash your hands' again and again, to build up that group immunity in a quiet pace, so that our care could cope with it. The cabinet was very clear: face masks are allowed, but they are not part of our strategy. According to the experts in the Netherlands, wearing face masks would not have real benefits, it would even lead to ignoring the 1.5M rule.


Then the summer was just around the corner. The figures looked a bit better, the weather made us all feel a bit better and suddenly we were allowed to get on a plane. With face masks (although according to our experts it still didn't matter much, and it wouldn't become part of the strategy). But since it would be a bit expensive to leave seats empty in order to keep the saintly 1.5M, we opted for such a mask anyway. And of course, it was a bit crazy that when you leave the plane, you take off that facemask and walk through Schiphol Airport, so the masks had to be on there as well. Let’s not think about what people have done in Italy, Spain or wherever they’ve been, or how you behave at home. The terraces were full again and more and more people came together. But back to the office, no that wasn't an option yet.


We saw what was happening but did nothing. Because the cabinet was on a 2-months recess, and ‘we’ll deal with whatever happened in the meantime, when we’re back’, I guess. Of course, I understand that it was (and still is) a terrible and exhausting time for them as well and that they really needed some rest. And indeed, they never do it right, but a captain doesn't leave his ship in the middle of a storm, no matter what. They were away for 2 months, 2 months...


Then we got the following instructions: testing, testing, testing! We had to cooperate with source and contact research, to make sure to map that virus asap and get outbreaks under control. Well, that plan quickly went down the drain: Amsterdam and Rotterdam didn't have the capacity to carry out the research carefully, and within no time the rest of the country followed. New instructions: you can only be tested when you have symptoms. What all those people who may have become infected but have no symptoms had to do, was not clear. Still nothing about office workers...


Young people were allowed to go back to school, they would not play a role in the transmission of the virus, in fact, today up to 13-year-olds don’t have to be tested at all. Elementary school, high schools and universities opened their doors without adequate ventilation, without triage, without control. Regardless of whether they just had a week of partying abroad. It was also announced that we would go for a regional policy. Mark Rutte took a step back, and we got 25 in return, each of which was allowed to determine their own policy. So, we had to deal with 25 areas, with different rules, in a country that you can cross in just 4 hours. And also, on a local level there was no attention for office workers, and a lot of whom have not been in the office since March (and no that's really no fun at all).


Then we arrived at the point that the second wave was just around the corner, and if it continued like that, more measures would have to be taken. We all know that feeling of restarting after your summer break, and that also applied for the cabinet. Felt a bit late, when the new measures were announced while the number of positively tested people went up in a steep line (as if they didn't take those figures seriously themselves). And the first to be hit again, but once again without understanding and attention, were the office workers. Those who can keep a good distance should stay at home. So that others can get on an airplane...


We're missing a captain. One who stands up and says: we were wrong and are going to do things differently. One who thinks of all crew members, not just certain professions or who sacrifices the stronger ones, to save the weaker ones. It's chaos in the Netherlands and survival is made very difficult this way...


And I hear you think: ‘easy for him to say. He’s shouting a lot, but he’s not in Mark’s position’. But I am not a tame sheep, who will do everything without thinking.


The man who advices everybody about corona, Jaap van Dissel, still says that face masks don't help to decrease the risk of contamination. But walk into the supermarket without one: you are looked at as if you are committing a crime. We have yet another 10 million special officers.


Thanks to Johan de Vos for the inspiration!


Topics:Eduard Schaepman