Roller-coaster rides for Dutch fans willing to get Covid-19 swab tests

Visitors over 12 years old needed to order a ticket online and book a Covid-19 test at a small number of designated locations.
Visitors over 12 years old needed to order a ticket online and book a Covid-19 test at a small number of designated locations.PHOTO: REUTERS

HELLENDOORN, NETHERLANDS (REUTERS) - Dutch roller-coaster fans who were willing to endure nose swabs to get their adrenaline fix were allowed back into a theme park over the weekend in an experiment to ease prolonged Covid-19 restrictions.

Two thousand tickets were on offer at the Hellendoorn amusement park, which on Saturday (April 10) became the first in the Netherlands to reopen since coronavirus lockdown measures forced it to temporarily shut down last year. The popular Keukenhof flower exhibition, zoos, casinos and historic tourist attractions also took part in the trial, which required serious planning to enable social distancing.

Visitors over 12 years old needed to order a ticket online and book a Covid-19 test at a small number of designated locations. A negative test result taken no more than 40 hours before admittance had to be presented on a smart phone app at the entrance, along with proof of identification.

Ms Chermaine Streppel, 20, travelled 100 km to the amusement park. "The trade off of having a swab stuck up your nose for five seconds was a whole day of fun," she said. Mr Vincenzo van Wijk, who spent a day at Hellendoorn with friends, also thought it was worth the hassle. He had missed the thrill of "the roller-coaster G-force, being able to ride the loops".

Around 75 per cent of the tickets were sold, with reluctance to get tested the likely reason for the shortfall, said Mr Rene Peul, marketing and sales director at Hellendoorn. "What we wanted to find out was how prepared people were to get tested before having a day out and how that process worked," said Mr Peul.

"You saw that the number of people willing to do that in cold weather was limited."