Roller-coaster rides for Dutch fans willing to get nose swab


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© Reuters. Two thousand people visit Hellendoorn theme park in the Netherlands as part of an experiment

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By Esther Verkaik

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 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 prior to admittance had to be presented on a smart phone app at the entrance, along with proof of identification.

Chermaine Streppel, 20, travelled 100 kilometres (60 miles) to the amusement park. “The trade off of having a swap stuck up your nose for five seconds was a whole day of fun,” she said.

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% of the tickets were sold, with reluctance to get tested the likely reason for the shortfall, said René Peul, marketing and sales director at Hellendoorn.

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

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