Cannabis smokers queued up to stockpile weed in Holland yesterday after the country’s famous ‘coffee shops’ were ordered to shut over coronavirus fears.
Leaving the widespread quest for pasta and toilet paper to one side, customers in Amsterdam, Eindhoven and the Hague lined up in their dozens on Sunday to stock up on marijuana.
Staff set up separate lines for cash and cards as customers hurried to order supplies for what could be a weeks-long quarantine.
Meanwhile, another popular symbol of the Netherlands is also suffering: sex clubs in Amsterdam’s red-light district were ordered to shut by 6pm.
The queues built up within minutes after the Dutch health and education ministers gave a televised press conference announcing the closure of many businesses, along with all Dutch schools.
‘For maybe for the next two months we’re not able to get some weed so it should be nice to at least have some in the house,’ one cannabis buyer in the Hague said.
‘My friend called me like five minutes ago, he saw the press conference – good friend,’ the Dutch shopper called Jonathan said.
Customers queued in the streets to get their hands on products such as ‘Doctor’, ‘Bubble’ and ‘Purple Haze’ before the doors shut.
Similar scenes were reported around the country, with pictures of long queues outside coffee shops in the capital Amsterdam and the historic university city of Utrecht.
‘I wouldn’t mind having a little bit of weed – keep it easy while we’re at home for so long. It might be a long time in quarantine,’ said an Irish woman who gave her name as Hannah as she queued in The Hague.
‘I was literally just watching the press conference with my flatmate and then I just went downstairs and suddenly there’s this queue of like 30 people, and all these cars arriving as well now.’
Lines also built up at Roermond near the border with Germany, amid fears that the German government would shut its borders with the Netherlands next.
Germany has already introduced strict controls for those arriving from France, Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Denmark from Monday.
Cannabis is technically illegal in the Netherlands, but it decriminalised the possession of less than five grams (0.18 ounces) of the substance in 1976 under a so-called ‘tolerance’ policy.
The cannabis queues came despite Health Minister Bruno Bruins making an ‘urgent appeal’ to Dutch people during Sunday’s press conference, saying: ‘Do not hoard. It is not necessary.’
Prime Minister Mark Rutte will on Monday make a televised address to the nation, which has so far recorded 20 deaths from the Covid-19 disease and 1,135 infections.