Pascal Kuijpers: Groundhog Day, on repeat

Pascal Kuijpers: Groundhog Day, on repeat


Many people will remember that Prime Minister Mark Rutte and former Minister for Medicare and Sports, Bruno Bruins, addressed the country on March 12, 2020 and the first restrictions were imposed.

Groundhog Day is a holiday widely celebrated on February 2 each year in Canada and the United States. On this day, the giraffe (groundhog) wakes up from hibernation and shows itself outside its den for the first time. The holiday gained worldwide fame in 1993 with the movie of the same name. Each year, a regional television station spends an item on the appearance of the woodcutter. The presenter always reluctantly travels to Punxsutawney to report this. This time, after a day of shooting with his team, he got stuck in a snowstorm. When he wakes up in the morning, everything from the day before begins to repeat itself. From now on, every day is exactly the same for the TV host, the days are identical, and every day is Groundhog Day for him.

Groundhog Day is now a household name, thanks in part to this funny movie, and the name is used regularly in a somewhat ironic context in which current events are frequent. Take the countless press conferences we’ve now held regarding the resulting pandemic. Many people will remember that Prime Minister Mark Rutte and former Minister for Medicare and Sports, Bruno Bruins, addressed the country on March 12, 2020 and the first restrictions were imposed. For example, they argued that events could only happen to a maximum of 100 people, and that people had to work from home in case of mild flu or cold complaints and advised them not to visit the elderly and sick anymore.

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In part because of these stated restrictions, the gravity of the situation has slowly receded. Our social existence suddenly entered a mode of austerity. Vigilance and solidarity are required, and creating distance is a must. As a footnote, it was noted at the end of this memorable first press conference that schools could remain open as usual. After all, children will be less contagious and many parents will be deceived if children have to stay home. I was surprised and worried to hear the story. Looks like I wasn’t the only one. Concerns were shared and expressed from across the country. Eventually, after a scheduled emergency meeting, schools closed after a few days and education began entirely online. Not for the planned three weeks, but for three months.

In mid-December 2020, we went to iteration. The second wave caused many infections, closed schools again for an extended period and switched entirely to providing online lessons. During these turbulent periods, the restrictions imposed on coping with the virus have often been adjusted or tightened as well. The vaccine should provide the solution in the end. But in many cases, the virus appears to be winning the battle against vaccines, and we are now, once again, back to square one.

Experts say again that schools can safely remain open, provided measures are observed (…) The current temporary cabinet again sees no need to give people working in a crucial profession such as education enhanced protection earlier. In order to avoid a lot of downtime. We have to wait for more patients and a terrifying third period online.

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In Groundhog Day, it is not clear how the main character ended up repeating “Lumberjack Day”. Nor is it clear how long this particular day will continue to repeat itself in the film. So the text shows many similarities with our lives today. More than a year and eight months after the first press conference, at least some things have been decided: There is a lot of turmoil and dissatisfaction, there is a lot of uncertainty and we don’t know how long that uncertainty will last. Hopefully this time will never repeat itself.

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