News & Politics

Holland Stands Out as Only Country in Europe to Reject Masking

A group of friends enjoy a meal in a dead end street in the center of Amsterdam, Netherlands, Wednesday, July 1, 2020. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

If you’re looking to travel somewhere where masks aren’t required, Holland is the place to go. The Daily Mail reported that Holland’s top scientists have rejected forced masking as unnecessary and even the part of problem, helping the coronavirus to spread.

Holland’s position is based on assessments by the Outbreak Management Team, a group of experts advising the government. It first ruled against masks in May and has re-evaluated the evidence several times, including again last week.

It believes they detract from a clear three-pronged message that has kept deaths from coronavirus down to less than half the rate in Britain: wash hands regularly, maintain social distancing of 1.5 metres and stay at home if suffering any symptoms.

The one exception outside of the medical frontline has been on public transport, where masks are mandatory on the basis it is difficult to stay apart on crowded buses, ferries and trains. ‘We have seen this approach works,’ said Christian Hoebe, a professor of infectious diseases in Maastricht and member of the advisory team. ‘Face masks should not be seen as a magic bullet that halts the spread.

The only exceptions are Rotterdam and Amsterdam, which instituted mask orders on Thursday.

Masks can give people a false sense of safety, say top medical personnel in Holland—an opinion once held by Dr. Fauci.

‘The evidence for them is contradictory. In general, we think you must be careful with face masks because they can give a false sense of security. People think they’re immune from disease or stop social distancing. That is very negative.’

Another problem is that most people don’t wear them properly. (Click through to the whole thread for some hilarious mask fails.)

 

Not imposing masks on the population has its benefits. Holland is seeing a rise in tourism.

Warmenhoven told me she was going to holiday in Holland after discussing with her husband where to go. ‘He said he didn’t want to go anywhere abroad that you have to wear masks,’ she said. This bears out the hunch of the Netherlands Board of Tourism and Conventions, which has commissioned research to find out if their country has an edge in the struggle to entice dwindling numbers of tourists.

Ben Coates, the author of Why The Dutch Are Different, who lives in central Holland, said the speed with which normal life had returned in the country was remarkable.

‘When you walk around, you are hard-pressed to see much difference now,’ he said.

He added that while Dutch citizens tended to trust their governments, they also had strong libertarian instincts. ‘People don’t like being told what to do, so they will cycle without helmets and sleep with whom they want.’

The Dutch are sounding more American than Americans these days. Despite the mountains of conflicting opinions and no real consensus on masking, Americans have decided to obey the local authorities for the most part. Meanwhile, our press, like the Wall Street Journal. continues to tout mask-wearing as a silver bullet, citing studies to convince us. Titling their article “Face Masks Really Do Matter, The Scientific Evidence is Growing,” the WSJ tries hard to convince us that the science is settled—until we get to the part that admits the science is not settled at all.

The study, which analyzed the droplet spread of a healthy volunteer after capturing it on video, hasn’t yet been peer-reviewed. Researchers concluded from their observations that homemade cloth masks likely need several layers—ideally at least three—to prevent the transmission of the virus.

Time will tell if Holland falls victim to the pressure to mask everyone, but for now, it might be the only place in the world that can breathe freely.