It is getting quieter and emptier by the day in and around the Idealis flats. But at the end of a quiet Tuesday, caretaker Eugene van Meteren suddenly hears a commotion.
On 16 March, Prime Minister Mark Rutte addressed the nation on television, radio and various livestreams. Our country is in the grip of the coronavirus. Together with the rest of the world. On 23 March, stricter extended measures were announced, which Rutte described as an intelligent lockdown. Meanwhile, 90 per cent of Idealis staff are working from home, but of course our residents can reach us by telephone and email.
After the decision on the intelligent lockdown, there was still some activity in and around the building where I work, but now it is getting slower, emptier and quieter by the day.
Normally the carpark is full of cars; now there are hardly any – just one lonely car with an Italian number plate. I assume the owner is unable to return to their family in their home country.
It is dead quiet in the office too, and the only sound I hear is the telephone or the sound the computer makes when an email comes in. This Tuesday I see hardly anyone all day, but at about five o’clock in the afternoon there is a sudden commotion.
I can hear voices, and I see lads and lasses of Chinese origin, all wearing face masks, gathering outside. I am curious, and wonder what’s going on. Here comes a white van, with Asian Snacks, Fresh Fruits & Vegetables on the side of it. The students form an orderly long queue of at least 20 metres. The van owner slides the door open and hands a package of food to the first person in the queue. And so it goes on.
At the same moment, along comes a car with compliance officers in it. They get out and give instructions that everyone should keep one and half metres apart. The students comply politely and take a step backwards.
It is a bizarre, surreal scene. But it is the reality nowadays.
Eugene van Meteren works for Idealis as a caretaker. He writes about his experiences for Resource.