Welcome to the “Hotel Omicron” in the Netherlands. Here, we found that a couple of quarantine fugitives could check out at any time, but they couldn’t leave.
There are few apparent signs that the box-shaped concrete Ramada Hotel near Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is home to the world’s largest confirmed cluster of new Omicron variant cases.
Customers are usually passengers or meeting attendees whose flights are delayed, says Dicky. Dicky is an experienced local taxi driver who calls it the “Corona Hotel”.
The police are not visible in front of the hotel, and the only signs of the guards are the two guards who politely ask the journalists to stop shooting.
In this country, which takes pride in respecting individual freedom, the dozens of people isolated here are theoretically cracked down only on their own responsibility.
Dutch officials have now found 61 out of 624 travelers with the coronavirus on two KLM flights from South Africa, where the new strain was first detected.
Currently, 14 strains have been confirmed to be Omicron strains.
However, Dutch policy is currently being scrutinized after border guards arrested a 30-year-old Spanish man and a 28-year-old Portuguese woman who fled the hotel on Sunday.
In Badhoevedorp, a suburb of Amsterdam where the hotel is located, the locals are not bothered by the fuss.
“I’m not afraid of Covid,” says accountant Anja, despite losing her sense of taste and smell for about 10 months after the virus attack last year.
“It’s like the flu, it’s just an overnight fever,” adds a 60-year-old who refuses vaccination.
Her boss, Adam, 37, also “dislikes” being jabed, even though her mother and father have been forced to vaccinate and her best friend is about to die.
But he says the Sunday night event at the hotel is “ridiculous” and “strange.”
In a situation not yet fully explained, the quarantined couple managed to leave the hotel unnoticed, arrive at the airport, and board a plane to Spain.
Border guards caught up with them shortly before takeoff.
One of the couples tested positive for the coronavirus and the other negative, but chose to stay with their partner in Ramada.
It was not clear if the positive case was the Omicron strain.
Petra Faber, a spokeswoman for the local mayor of Haarlemmermeer, said the couple are now isolated in a hospital, adding that their disgust was “not very wise.”
“The Ministry of Justice is investigating whether what they did was a crime,” Faber told AFP.
Couples were not legally required to stay in hotels, even though the World Health Organization may be infected with what they call a “variant of concern” that poses a high risk globally. ..
About 50 of the 61 people who tested positive on South African flights were in Ramada, but others were allowed to go home and quarantine instead.
“We wanted people to be wise,” Faber said.
“In the Netherlands, it’s not illegal to go out when a Covid test is positive, but when you fly on a plane knowing you have it, that’s another story.”
Dutch health officials believe that measures against infectious diseases, including quarantine, are “generally voluntary,” spokesman Harm Grostra said.
“It can only be enforced if someone does not follow the rules. In the Netherlands, most people have this feeling of following what the government has decided for them,” he added.
“It was a crazy situation when they decided to leave the hotel. I was very disappointed. They endangered everyone around and our public health in general.”