Cities urge people to stay home on Dutch king's birthday

A mother and her daughter, flashing a thumbs up and wearing an orange King's robe and the Dutch flag, ride along Prinsengracht canal on King's Day in the center of Amsterdam, Netherlands, Tuesday, April 27, 2021. The Dutch were celebrating their king's birthday Tuesday in muted fashion as a coronavirus lockdown prevented large-scale street parties for the second year running. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
A mother and her daughter, flashing a thumbs up and wearing an orange King's robe and the Dutch flag, ride along Prinsengracht canal on King's Day in the center of Amsterdam, Netherlands, Tuesday, April 27, 2021. The Dutch were celebrating their king's birthday Tuesday in muted fashion as a coronavirus lockdown prevented large-scale street parties for the second year running. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

Credit: Peter Dejong

Credit: Peter Dejong

Crowds have gathered in cities across the Netherlands despite authorities urging people to stick to coronavirus social distancing regulations as the country marks the King’s Day national holiday

AMSTERDAM (AP) — Crowds gathered in cities across the Netherlands on Tuesday despite authorities urging people to stick to coronavirus social distancing regulations as the country marked the King's Day national holiday.

This year, the celebrations for King Willem-Alexander's birthday came as lockdown fatigue is rising and a day before an easing of some restrictions even though hospitals are having to postpone regular medical procedures so they can focus on the high level of COVID-19 patients.

Even so, clear blue skies and warm weather sent people crowding into city parks and prompted authorities to tell them to go home and urge others to stay away.

Many did not pay attention. In scenes reminiscent of King’s Day celebrations before the pandemic, some canal-side streets near Amsterdam’s historic Westerkerk church were packed with mostly young revelers singing and drinking Tuesday evening. Police eventually broke up the gathering when some party-goers started to fight each other.

Amsterdam's municipal authorities shut off access to two of the city's main parks by early afternoon and urged people to stay away from the Dutch capital, saying it was too busy. Two other major cities, Utrecht and Rotterdam, tweeted out similar messages in the afternoon.

In the central city of Arnhem, hundreds packed into a central market square for a demonstration against the government and lockdown measures, prompting city officials to urge people to stay away as the area was full.

The protesters marched through the city chanting slogans including “We are the Netherlands” and “Love, freedom, no dictatorship!” as scores of police monitored the demonstration, which remained peaceful and ended with organizers thanking police and the city's mayor.

King Willem-Alexander marked his 54th birthday in Eindhoven, a southern city that brands itself as a hub for high-tech innovation, with a largely digital version of the annual royal walkabout.

The king, who publicly expressed regret last year for going on a vacation in Greece during the pandemic, paid tribute to care workers unable to join festivities.

“Our hearts go out to the people who can't celebrate today," he said, adding that he hoped for “a normal King's Day next year."

The national holiday is usually an occasion for the Dutch to drape themselves in orange clothes, hats and feather boas, sell old toys and books in street markets and crowd the streets of major cities.

Not this year. The capital, Amsterdam, urged residents to celebrate according to lockdown guidelines with a maximum of one visitor, but added “you can still dig out the orange T-shirt or silly hat and hang out the flag.”

In an attempt to prevent rioting, Arnhem Mayor Ahmed Marcouch gave police special powers for the day to check people coming into Arnhem and imposed a limit of 500 people for the demonstration, later raised to 1,000.

Marcouch said that demonstrations are a constitutional right, but that “signals of the risk of rioting at different locations in the city endanger that right to demonstrate.”

On Wednesday, the national lockdown is being eased with measures including the end of a nationwide curfew imposed in mid-January and cafes allowed to reopen their outdoor terraces — under strict conditions — from noon to 6 p.m.

___

Mike Corder reported from The Hague.

___

Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at:

Explorehttps://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic
Explorehttps://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine
Explorehttps://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
People celebrate King's Day near Westerkerk church, rear, in the center of Amsterdam, Netherlands, Tuesday, April 27, 2021. Crowds have gathered in cities across the Netherlands despite authorities urging people to stick to coronavirus social distancing regulations as the country marks King Willem-Alexander's birthday, a national holiday. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
People celebrate King's Day near Westerkerk church, rear, in the center of Amsterdam, Netherlands, Tuesday, April 27, 2021. Crowds have gathered in cities across the Netherlands despite authorities urging people to stick to coronavirus social distancing regulations as the country marks King Willem-Alexander's birthday, a national holiday. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

Credit: Peter Dejong

Credit: Peter Dejong

A man carrying his bicycle moves through a crowd celebrating King's Day in the center of Amsterdam, Netherlands, Tuesday, April 27, 2021. Crowds have gathered in cities across the Netherlands despite authorities urging people to stick to coronavirus social distancing regulations as the country marks King Willem-Alexander's birthday, a national holiday. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
A man carrying his bicycle moves through a crowd celebrating King's Day in the center of Amsterdam, Netherlands, Tuesday, April 27, 2021. Crowds have gathered in cities across the Netherlands despite authorities urging people to stick to coronavirus social distancing regulations as the country marks King Willem-Alexander's birthday, a national holiday. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

Credit: Peter Dejong

Credit: Peter Dejong

A man wearing an orange King's robe passes empty sidewalks on King's Day in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Tuesday, April 27, 2021. The streets are normally filled with people selling old toys and other items in street markets but the Dutch were celebrating their king's birthday Tuesday in muted fashion as a coronavirus lockdown prevented large-scale street parties for the second year running. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
A man wearing an orange King's robe passes empty sidewalks on King's Day in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Tuesday, April 27, 2021. The streets are normally filled with people selling old toys and other items in street markets but the Dutch were celebrating their king's birthday Tuesday in muted fashion as a coronavirus lockdown prevented large-scale street parties for the second year running. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

Credit: Peter Dejong

Credit: Peter Dejong

A man, wearing the colors of the Royal House of Orange, celebrates King's Day at home in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Tuesday, April 27, 2021. The Dutch were celebrating their king's birthday Tuesday in muted fashion as a coronavirus lockdown prevented large-scale street parties for the second year running. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
A man, wearing the colors of the Royal House of Orange, celebrates King's Day at home in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Tuesday, April 27, 2021. The Dutch were celebrating their king's birthday Tuesday in muted fashion as a coronavirus lockdown prevented large-scale street parties for the second year running. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

Credit: Peter Dejong

Credit: Peter Dejong

A man celebrates King's Day on the doorstep of his decorated home in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Tuesday, April 27, 2021. The Dutch were celebrating their king's birthday Tuesday in muted fashion as a coronavirus lockdown prevented large-scale street parties for the second year running. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
A man celebrates King's Day on the doorstep of his decorated home in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Tuesday, April 27, 2021. The Dutch were celebrating their king's birthday Tuesday in muted fashion as a coronavirus lockdown prevented large-scale street parties for the second year running. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

Credit: Peter Dejong

Credit: Peter Dejong

Orange flares are set off during a demonstration against coronavirus related government policies including the curfew and the tight lockdown in Arnhem, eastern Netherlands, Tuesday, April 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
Orange flares are set off during a demonstration against coronavirus related government policies including the curfew and the tight lockdown in Arnhem, eastern Netherlands, Tuesday, April 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

Credit: Peter Dejong

Credit: Peter Dejong

Dutch police stops a crowded boat on Prinsengracht canal on King's day in the center of Amsterdam, Netherlands, Tuesday, April 27, 2021. The Dutch were celebrating their king's birthday Tuesday in muted fashion as a coronavirus lockdown prevented large-scale street parties for the second year running. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
Dutch police stops a crowded boat on Prinsengracht canal on King's day in the center of Amsterdam, Netherlands, Tuesday, April 27, 2021. The Dutch were celebrating their king's birthday Tuesday in muted fashion as a coronavirus lockdown prevented large-scale street parties for the second year running. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

Credit: Peter Dejong

Credit: Peter Dejong

A man climbs on a camper, right, as an empty beer bottle, top right, is thrown at the vehicle as it passes through a crowd of people celebrating King's Day in the center of Amsterdam, Netherlands, Tuesday, April 27, 2021. Crowds have gathered in cities across the Netherlands despite authorities urging people to stick to coronavirus social distancing regulations as the country marks King Willem-Alexander's birthday, a national holiday. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
A man climbs on a camper, right, as an empty beer bottle, top right, is thrown at the vehicle as it passes through a crowd of people celebrating King's Day in the center of Amsterdam, Netherlands, Tuesday, April 27, 2021. Crowds have gathered in cities across the Netherlands despite authorities urging people to stick to coronavirus social distancing regulations as the country marks King Willem-Alexander's birthday, a national holiday. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

Credit: Peter Dejong

Credit: Peter Dejong

Tourists take a selfie with a couple posing as King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima on King's Day in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Tuesday, April 27, 2021. The Dutch were celebrating their king's birthday Tuesday in muted fashion as a coronavirus lockdown prevented large-scale street parties for the second year running. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
Tourists take a selfie with a couple posing as King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima on King's Day in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Tuesday, April 27, 2021. The Dutch were celebrating their king's birthday Tuesday in muted fashion as a coronavirus lockdown prevented large-scale street parties for the second year running. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

Credit: Peter Dejong

Credit: Peter Dejong

A group of orange-clad friends prepare to leave on their rental scooters during King's Day celebrations in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Tuesday, April 27, 2021. The Dutch were celebrating their king's birthday Tuesday in muted fashion as a coronavirus lockdown prevented large-scale street parties for the second year running. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
A group of orange-clad friends prepare to leave on their rental scooters during King's Day celebrations in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Tuesday, April 27, 2021. The Dutch were celebrating their king's birthday Tuesday in muted fashion as a coronavirus lockdown prevented large-scale street parties for the second year running. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

Credit: Peter Dejong

Credit: Peter Dejong

A couple poses as King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima on King's Day in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Tuesday, April 27, 2021. The Dutch were celebrating their king's birthday Tuesday in muted fashion as a coronavirus lockdown prevented large-scale street parties for the second year running. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
A couple poses as King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima on King's Day in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Tuesday, April 27, 2021. The Dutch were celebrating their king's birthday Tuesday in muted fashion as a coronavirus lockdown prevented large-scale street parties for the second year running. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

Credit: Peter Dejong

Credit: Peter Dejong

Police escorts a demonstration against coronavirus related government policies including the curfew and the tight lockdown in Arnhem, eastern Netherlands, Tuesday, April 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
Police escorts a demonstration against coronavirus related government policies including the curfew and the tight lockdown in Arnhem, eastern Netherlands, Tuesday, April 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

Credit: Peter Dejong

Credit: Peter Dejong

Orange flares are set off during a demonstration against coronavirus related government policies including the curfew and the tight lockdown in Arnhem, eastern Netherlands, Tuesday, April 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
Orange flares are set off during a demonstration against coronavirus related government policies including the curfew and the tight lockdown in Arnhem, eastern Netherlands, Tuesday, April 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

Credit: Peter Dejong

Credit: Peter Dejong

A man waves the Dutch flag during a demonstration against coronavirus related government policies including the curfew and the tight lockdown in Arnhem, eastern Netherlands, Tuesday, April 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
A man waves the Dutch flag during a demonstration against coronavirus related government policies including the curfew and the tight lockdown in Arnhem, eastern Netherlands, Tuesday, April 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

Credit: Peter Dejong

Credit: Peter Dejong

A man waves the Dutch flag during a demonstration against coronavirus related government policies including the curfew and the tight lockdown in Arnhem, eastern Netherlands, Tuesday, April 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
A man waves the Dutch flag during a demonstration against coronavirus related government policies including the curfew and the tight lockdown in Arnhem, eastern Netherlands, Tuesday, April 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

Credit: Peter Dejong

Credit: Peter Dejong

A protestor holds an orange flare during a demonstration against coronavirus related government policies including the curfew and the tight lockdown in Arnhem, eastern Netherlands, Tuesday, April 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
A protestor holds an orange flare during a demonstration against coronavirus related government policies including the curfew and the tight lockdown in Arnhem, eastern Netherlands, Tuesday, April 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

Credit: Peter Dejong

Credit: Peter Dejong

A person holds an umbrella reading "Love" during a demonstration against coronavirus related government policies including the curfew and the tight lockdown in Arnhem, eastern Netherlands, Tuesday, April 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
A person holds an umbrella reading "Love" during a demonstration against coronavirus related government policies including the curfew and the tight lockdown in Arnhem, eastern Netherlands, Tuesday, April 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

Credit: Peter Dejong

Credit: Peter Dejong

People celebrate King's Day in the center of Amsterdam, Netherlands, Tuesday, April 27, 2021. Crowds have gathered in cities across the Netherlands despite authorities urging people to stick to coronavirus social distancing regulations as the country marks King Willem-Alexander's birthday, a national holiday. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
People celebrate King's Day in the center of Amsterdam, Netherlands, Tuesday, April 27, 2021. Crowds have gathered in cities across the Netherlands despite authorities urging people to stick to coronavirus social distancing regulations as the country marks King Willem-Alexander's birthday, a national holiday. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

Credit: Peter Dejong

Credit: Peter Dejong

People celebrate King's Day in the center of Amsterdam, Netherlands, Tuesday, April 27, 2021. Crowds have gathered in cities across the Netherlands despite authorities urging people to stick to coronavirus social distancing regulations as the country marks King Willem-Alexander's birthday, a national holiday. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
People celebrate King's Day in the center of Amsterdam, Netherlands, Tuesday, April 27, 2021. Crowds have gathered in cities across the Netherlands despite authorities urging people to stick to coronavirus social distancing regulations as the country marks King Willem-Alexander's birthday, a national holiday. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

Credit: Peter Dejong

Credit: Peter Dejong

A taxi moves through a crowd of revelers celebrating King's Day in the center of Amsterdam, Netherlands, Tuesday, April 27, 2021. Crowds have gathered in cities across the Netherlands despite authorities urging people to stick to coronavirus social distancing regulations as the country marks King Willem-Alexander's birthday, a national holiday. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
A taxi moves through a crowd of revelers celebrating King's Day in the center of Amsterdam, Netherlands, Tuesday, April 27, 2021. Crowds have gathered in cities across the Netherlands despite authorities urging people to stick to coronavirus social distancing regulations as the country marks King Willem-Alexander's birthday, a national holiday. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

Credit: Peter Dejong

Credit: Peter Dejong

Empty beer cans are seen on the ground as people celebrate King's Day in the center of Amsterdam, Netherlands, Tuesday, April 27, 2021. Crowds have gathered in cities across the Netherlands despite authorities urging people to stick to coronavirus social distancing regulations as the country marks King Willem-Alexander's birthday, a national holiday. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
Empty beer cans are seen on the ground as people celebrate King's Day in the center of Amsterdam, Netherlands, Tuesday, April 27, 2021. Crowds have gathered in cities across the Netherlands despite authorities urging people to stick to coronavirus social distancing regulations as the country marks King Willem-Alexander's birthday, a national holiday. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

Credit: Peter Dejong

Credit: Peter Dejong

In Other News