Covid numbers in Leiden and The Hague are on the rise
The number of coronavirus patients in the region is rising rapidly, especially among students. Some frats and bars are shutting down voluntarily, others are forced to close.
Bart Braun
Thursday 24 September 2020
The annual carnival during the Relief of Leiden will not take place this year. Picture: Taco van der Eb

The town of Leiden had 170 people testing positive for the coronavirus last week, almost six times more than during the peak of the first wave back in March. Of course, testing capacity was limited back then, but in the Netherlands, it is still limited right now. This week, the number of at 127, with four days more to go.

In The Hague, the curve is flatter, but that's mostly because it never went down in the first place. With over 300 patients per 100.000 people last week it is one of the most infected places in the Netherlands (Leiden is at 250). Last week, the province of Zuid-Holland, where Leiden and The Hague are in, was designated as a Red Zone by both Germany and Belgium, meaning that travel from Zuid-Holland to these countries is severely restricted.

Last week, the Dutch government replied to these concerns by changing opening hours for bars (they have to close at 01:00 now), and announcing that local areas have full federal support if they want to take extra measures. On the same day, Leiden's mayor Henri Lenferink stated that he doesn't want to take any, reasoning that if people are mainly getting infected in private settings, closing down public places will not make things better.


That doesn't mean that nothing is happening. Last week a karaoke bar in the city center was shut down for fourteen days for not following the Dutch coronavirus guidelines. Rowing fraternity Njord is closed after eight of its member got infected, possibly at their club building. The two biggest fraternities in Leiden, Minerva and Augustinus, shut down their activities of their own accord. In the Hague, a number of schools and bars had to close after outbreaks.

Because a lot of the current patients are young, the stress on the Dutch hospitals is not as bad as it was in March. Yet. The Leiden University Medical Center is already postponing non-urgent care and moving patients to other regions in order to free up space for covid patients.

Against this troublesome background, Leiden University is currently still open. It aims to have 25% of its regular teachings on campus, and asks its employers to work from home as much as possible. The university's campus protocol can be found here, but the most important rule is to stay home if you have covid-like symptoms, or if you have been in close contact with somebody who does. As almost anywhere else in this country, there are no facemask requirements.


Due to the lack of test capacity, you can currently only get tested for coronavirus if you have actual health complaints, like shortness of breath or a sudden loss of taste. If you have a BSN (Dutch social security number), you can apply for a test on If you don't, you can call 0800-1202 to make an appointment. Remember that you are not supposed to use public transport to get there.

The annual celebration of Leiden's Relief (on the third of October) will be severely different this year. Normally, it is one of the biggest pub cralws in the Netherlands, with several hundreds of thousands of people visiting Leiden, walking from bar to bar, singing along with live bands and drinking, sometimes more than strictly necessary. This year, the carnival is canceled, and the historical parts with singing and costumes will take place in coronavirus mode. A number of bars in the city center have announced that they will simply close up shop under the circumstances, fearing repercussions if they fail to maintain the 1.5m distance rule among their customers.