Tiptoe through Dutch tulips? Not in coronavirus crisis

LISSE, Netherlands — (AP) — The manicured lawns and pathways winding the flower beds at the Keukenhof spring garden, normally crowded with thousands of visitors on any given sun-splashed spring day, were deserted Thursday.

A lonely worker pushed his wheelbarrow through the garden, carrying out maintenance even though nobody will be allowed to visit the Dutch park this season because of restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus.

“It feels very bad, you can imagine," said Keukenhof Director Bart Siemerink. "It really hurts. For all the gardeners, for all the people involved.”

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In a normal year, there are plenty of people — some 1,300 — involved in grooming the garden, working in stores and restaurants and maintaining order in the busy parking lot.

But this is not a normal year and now only about 40-50 staff are working to maintain the park to ensure it can reopen in 2021.

The Keukenhof's annual eight-week opening, which usually attracts some 1.5 million visitors from more than 100 countries, was postponed last week, and on Wednesday canceled altogether. It's not the only major Dutch tourist site that has fallen victim to the virus' march across the world. The Van Gogh Museum and Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam are shuttered, and even the brothels in the city's Red Light district have closed down.

Siemerink said he doesn't intend to let all the Keukenhof preparations — 7 million bulbs were planted by hand for this year's season — go to waste.

Instead of welcoming real guests, the park intends to showcase itself online — a sort of virtual tiptoe through the tulips.

Siemerink is now working on a project aimed at broadcasting live films online and in partnership with television stations in the Netherlands, Germany and Britain.

“If people cannot come to Keukenhof, we will bring Keukenhof to the people at home,” he said.

A sign asking people to observe social distancing and keep 1.5 meters, or five feet, apart to reduce the spread of the coronavirus was put up in a field of tulips in Lisse, Netherlands, Thursday, March 26, 2020. The world-renowned Dutch flower garden Keukenhof in Lisse will not open this year after the Dutch government extended its ban on gatherings to June 1 in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Instead of opening, it will allow people to virtually visit its colorful floral displays through its social media and online channels. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
A sign asking people to observe social distancing and keep 1.5 meters, or five feet, apart to reduce the spread of the coronavirus was put up in a field of tulips in Lisse, Netherlands, Thursday, March 26, 2020. The world-renowned Dutch flower garden Keukenhof in Lisse will not open this year after the Dutch government extended its ban on gatherings to June 1 in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Instead of opening, it will allow people to virtually visit its colorful floral displays through its social media and online channels. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong) (Peter Dejong)
The first tulips start to blossom at the empty, world-renowned, Dutch flower garden Keukenhof which was closed because of the coronavrius, in Lisse, Netherlands, Thursday, March 26, 2020. Keukenhof will not open this year after the Dutch government extended its ban on gatherings to June 1 in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus. Instead of opening, it will allow people to virtually visit its colorful floral displays through its social media and online channels. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
The first tulips start to blossom at the empty, world-renowned, Dutch flower garden Keukenhof which was closed because of the coronavrius, in Lisse, Netherlands, Thursday, March 26, 2020. Keukenhof will not open this year after the Dutch government extended its ban on gatherings to June 1 in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus. Instead of opening, it will allow people to virtually visit its colorful floral displays through its social media and online channels. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong) (Peter Dejong)
Cherry trees blossom at the empty, world-renowned, Dutch flower garden Keukenhof which was closed because of the coronavirus, in Lisse, Netherlands, Thursday, March 26, 2020. Keukenhof will not open this year after the Dutch government extended its ban on gatherings to June 1 in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus. Instead of opening, it will allow people to virtually visit its colorful floral displays through its social media and online channels. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
Cherry trees blossom at the empty, world-renowned, Dutch flower garden Keukenhof which was closed because of the coronavirus, in Lisse, Netherlands, Thursday, March 26, 2020. Keukenhof will not open this year after the Dutch government extended its ban on gatherings to June 1 in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus. Instead of opening, it will allow people to virtually visit its colorful floral displays through its social media and online channels. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong) (Peter Dejong)
Lanes and benches void of visitors are seen at the world-renowned, Dutch flower garden Keukenhof which was closed because of the coronavirus, in Lisse, Netherlands, Thursday, March 26, 2020. Keukenhof will not open this year after the Dutch government extended its ban on gatherings to June 1 in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus. Instead of opening, it will allow people to virtually visit its colorful floral displays through its social media and online channels. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
Lanes and benches void of visitors are seen at the world-renowned, Dutch flower garden Keukenhof which was closed because of the coronavirus, in Lisse, Netherlands, Thursday, March 26, 2020. Keukenhof will not open this year after the Dutch government extended its ban on gatherings to June 1 in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus. Instead of opening, it will allow people to virtually visit its colorful floral displays through its social media and online channels. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong) (Peter Dejong)
View of the empty world-renowned, Dutch flower garden Keukenhof which was closed because of the coronavirus, in Lisse, Netherlands, Thursday, March 26, 2020. Keukenhof, which attracted 1.5 million visitors last year, will not open after the Dutch government extended its ban on gatherings to June 1 in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus. Instead of opening, it will allow people to virtually visit its colorful floral displays through its social media and online channels. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
View of the empty world-renowned, Dutch flower garden Keukenhof which was closed because of the coronavirus, in Lisse, Netherlands, Thursday, March 26, 2020. Keukenhof, which attracted 1.5 million visitors last year, will not open after the Dutch government extended its ban on gatherings to June 1 in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus. Instead of opening, it will allow people to virtually visit its colorful floral displays through its social media and online channels. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong) (Peter Dejong)
View of the empty, world-renowned, Dutch flower garden Keukenhof which was closed because of the coronavirus, in Lisse, Netherlands, Thursday, March 26, 2020. Keukenhof, which attracted 1.5 million visitors last year, will not open after the Dutch government extended its ban on gatherings to June 1 in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus. Instead of opening, it will allow people to virtually visit its colorful floral displays through its social media and online channels. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
View of the empty, world-renowned, Dutch flower garden Keukenhof which was closed because of the coronavirus, in Lisse, Netherlands, Thursday, March 26, 2020. Keukenhof, which attracted 1.5 million visitors last year, will not open after the Dutch government extended its ban on gatherings to June 1 in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus. Instead of opening, it will allow people to virtually visit its colorful floral displays through its social media and online channels. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong) (Peter Dejong)
View of the empty, world-renowned, Dutch flower garden Keukenhof which was closed because of the coronavirus, in Lisse, Netherlands, Thursday, March 26, 2020. Keukenhof, which attracted 1.5 million visitors last year, will not open after the Dutch government extended its ban on gatherings to June 1 in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus. Instead of opening, it will allow people to virtually visit its colorful floral displays through its social media and online channels. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
View of the empty, world-renowned, Dutch flower garden Keukenhof which was closed because of the coronavirus, in Lisse, Netherlands, Thursday, March 26, 2020. Keukenhof, which attracted 1.5 million visitors last year, will not open after the Dutch government extended its ban on gatherings to June 1 in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus. Instead of opening, it will allow people to virtually visit its colorful floral displays through its social media and online channels. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong) (Peter Dejong)
An employee pushes a wheelbarrow though the empty world-renowned, Dutch flower garden Keukenhof which was closed because of the coronavirus, in Lisse, Netherlands, Thursday, March 26, 2020. Keukenhof, which attracted 1.5 million visitors last year, will not open after the Dutch government extended its ban on gatherings to June 1 in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus. Instead of opening, it will allow people to virtually visit its colorful floral displays through its social media and online channels. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
An employee pushes a wheelbarrow though the empty world-renowned, Dutch flower garden Keukenhof which was closed because of the coronavirus, in Lisse, Netherlands, Thursday, March 26, 2020. Keukenhof, which attracted 1.5 million visitors last year, will not open after the Dutch government extended its ban on gatherings to June 1 in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus. Instead of opening, it will allow people to virtually visit its colorful floral displays through its social media and online channels. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong) (Peter Dejong)
Lanes void of visitors are seen at the world-renowned, Dutch flower garden Keukenhof which was closed because of the coronavirus, in Lisse, Netherlands, Thursday, March 26, 2020. Keukenhof, which attracted 1.5 million visitors will not open this year after the Dutch government extended its ban on gatherings to June 1 in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus. Instead of opening, it will allow people to virtually visit its colorful floral displays through its social media and online channels. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
Lanes void of visitors are seen at the world-renowned, Dutch flower garden Keukenhof which was closed because of the coronavirus, in Lisse, Netherlands, Thursday, March 26, 2020. Keukenhof, which attracted 1.5 million visitors will not open this year after the Dutch government extended its ban on gatherings to June 1 in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus. Instead of opening, it will allow people to virtually visit its colorful floral displays through its social media and online channels. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong) (Peter Dejong)
The shoes of Bart Siemerink, director of the world-renowned Dutch flower garden Keukenhof, are adorned with a design of tulips, as he walks the empty lanes of the garden in Lisse, Netherlands, Thursday, March 26, 2020. Keukenhof, which attracted 1.5 million visitors last year, will not open this year after the Dutch government extended its ban on gatherings to June 1 in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Instead of opening, it will allow people to virtually visit its colorful floral displays through its social media and online channels. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
The shoes of Bart Siemerink, director of the world-renowned Dutch flower garden Keukenhof, are adorned with a design of tulips, as he walks the empty lanes of the garden in Lisse, Netherlands, Thursday, March 26, 2020. Keukenhof, which attracted 1.5 million visitors last year, will not open this year after the Dutch government extended its ban on gatherings to June 1 in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Instead of opening, it will allow people to virtually visit its colorful floral displays through its social media and online channels. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong) (Peter Dejong)
A sign asking people to observe social distancing and keep 1.5 meters, or five feet, apart to reduce the spread of the corona virus was put up in a field of tulips in Lisse, Netherlands, Thursday, March 26, 2020. The world-renowned Dutch flower garden Keukenhof in Lisse will not open this year after the Dutch government extended its ban on gatherings to June 1 in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Instead of opening, it will allow people to virtually visit its colorful floral displays through its social media and online channels. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
A sign asking people to observe social distancing and keep 1.5 meters, or five feet, apart to reduce the spread of the corona virus was put up in a field of tulips in Lisse, Netherlands, Thursday, March 26, 2020. The world-renowned Dutch flower garden Keukenhof in Lisse will not open this year after the Dutch government extended its ban on gatherings to June 1 in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Instead of opening, it will allow people to virtually visit its colorful floral displays through its social media and online channels. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong) (Peter Dejong)
View of the empty, world-renowned, Dutch flower garden Keukenhof which was closed because of the coronavirus, in Lisse, Netherlands, Thursday, March 26, 2020. Keukenhof, which attracted 1.5 million visitors last year, will not open after the Dutch government extended its ban on gatherings to June 1 in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus. Instead of opening, it will allow people to virtually visit its colorful floral displays through its social media and online channels. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
View of the empty, world-renowned, Dutch flower garden Keukenhof which was closed because of the coronavirus, in Lisse, Netherlands, Thursday, March 26, 2020. Keukenhof, which attracted 1.5 million visitors last year, will not open after the Dutch government extended its ban on gatherings to June 1 in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus. Instead of opening, it will allow people to virtually visit its colorful floral displays through its social media and online channels. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong) (Peter Dejong)
View of the empty, world-renowned, Dutch flower garden Keukenhof which was closed because of the coronavirus, in Lisse, Netherlands, Thursday, March 26, 2020. Keukenhof, which attracted 1.5 million visitors last year, will not open after the Dutch government extended its ban on gatherings to June 1 in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus. Instead of opening, it will allow people to virtually visit its colorful floral displays through its social media and online channels. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
View of the empty, world-renowned, Dutch flower garden Keukenhof which was closed because of the coronavirus, in Lisse, Netherlands, Thursday, March 26, 2020. Keukenhof, which attracted 1.5 million visitors last year, will not open after the Dutch government extended its ban on gatherings to June 1 in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus. Instead of opening, it will allow people to virtually visit its colorful floral displays through its social media and online channels. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong) (Peter Dejong)
View of the empty, world-renowned, Dutch flower garden Keukenhof which was closed because of the coronavirus, in Lisse, Netherlands, Thursday, March 26, 2020. Keukenhof, which attracted 1.5 million visitors last year, will not open after the Dutch government extended its ban on gatherings to June 1 in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus. Instead of opening, it will allow people to virtually visit its colorful floral displays through its social media and online channels. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
View of the empty, world-renowned, Dutch flower garden Keukenhof which was closed because of the coronavirus, in Lisse, Netherlands, Thursday, March 26, 2020. Keukenhof, which attracted 1.5 million visitors last year, will not open after the Dutch government extended its ban on gatherings to June 1 in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus. Instead of opening, it will allow people to virtually visit its colorful floral displays through its social media and online channels. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong) (Peter Dejong)
View of the empty, world-renowned, Dutch flower garden Keukenhof which was closed because of the coronavirus, in Lisse, Netherlands, Thursday, March 26, 2020. Keukenhof, which attracted 1.5 million visitors last year, will not open after the Dutch government extended its ban on gatherings to June 1 in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus. Instead of opening, it will allow people to virtually visit its colorful floral displays through its social media and online channels. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
View of the empty, world-renowned, Dutch flower garden Keukenhof which was closed because of the coronavirus, in Lisse, Netherlands, Thursday, March 26, 2020. Keukenhof, which attracted 1.5 million visitors last year, will not open after the Dutch government extended its ban on gatherings to June 1 in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus. Instead of opening, it will allow people to virtually visit its colorful floral displays through its social media and online channels. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong) (Peter Dejong)