Just like in the rest of the world, Covid-19 had a great impact on daily life in the Netherlands and that of the Royal Dutch Touring Club (ANWB). Most of the ANWB staff is on the fourth week of working from home and the Club has undertaken many different initiatives to make a difference in this difficult time.
One of the biggest operations in the last weeks was the repatriation of ANWB travellers from all over the world. The ANWB travel companies FOX, Pharos and Travelhome needed to get 1,500 travellers from all over the world back to the Netherlands. Almost everybody has returned home, 95 passengers were not able to go back because of lockdowns in the countries that they visited.
The ANWB is also working closely together with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to get Dutch citizens back to the Netherlands that have been stranded abroad because of lockdowns and the closing of air space.
Two weeks ago, the ANWB made the decision to close all its stores. In the Netherlands, stores are not obliged to close, but many stores have done so anyway. The ANWB driving school has also put any driving lessons on hold until further notice.
In these times the Medical Air Assistance (MAA) helicopters are still operational.
“There are currently two helicopters being used for the transportation of patients”, said Aleid Lieshout, Communications Executive, International Relations ANWB. “Sometimes we even transfer patients to hospitals in Germany”, she added.
Patients who can be transported are flown by MAA: these flight can be up to 200 kilometres and take up to three hours – including disinfecting of the aircraft – and this means that the helicopters fly up to three times per day.
Finally, 20 employees of the ‘Alarmcentrale’ (Emergency Contact Center) are working for the Red Cross info line, supporting the Red Cross in answering questions and discussing concerns from Dutch citizens about the coronavirus.
The role of the ANWB in these challenging times was underlined by the Dutch King Willem Alexander during a phone call with ANWB President & CEO, Frits van Bruggen, and Director of Assistance, Rian Vreeburg. He learned more about all the different things the ANWB is doing for the Netherlands and thanked the club for all its efforts.