With a heavy heart, we have decided to close our doors for the time being,” says Spar University’s store manager Patricia. The campus location is packing its products so they can be redistributed to other Spars in Rotterdam that are still open. “Some of the food will be going to the food bank.” About the closure: “We’re taking this measure to protect our staff against corona. But on top of that, there simply aren’t enough customers to justify staying open.”

As is clear from the handful of campus customers who trickle in around lunchtime last Friday – the shop would normally be full of people queuing up to buy lunch. Only a few patrons venture into the supermarket. To curb the virus, no more than 100 people are allowed in the shop at any time, but it’s unlikely this rule will be broken today. Those who do shop here leave as soon as possible for the safety of their offices.

Campus becomes ghost town

Fabian Amtenbrink, vice dean at Erasmus School of Law (ESL), doesn’t mind chatting – as long as we keep 1.5 metres between us. There’s a poster on the door of the campus supermarket announcing the closure. “I took picture of it a moment ago and sent it to the ESL app group. I understand the decision, but at the same time, it’s a pity. Those poor internationals here on campus, this place is turning into a ghost town!”

There are only a few ESL staff members left on campus. “We’re working full-time to continue our education programme online – which is quite a challenge. In fact, that’s why at the beginning of the week, you could still find a whole bunch of us on campus, but this group is quickly getting smaller. And in the near future, I’ll probably be staying home too.”

The campus supermarket’s spokeswoman Kyra van Elswijk tells us that some of the staff will be volunteering soon. “We’ve set up a programme where people can register for volunteer work. For example, the food bank has asked us to help, so we’ll be doing that soon.” Spar’s other campus locations will also be closing. “It’s a real bummer. We don’t know how long this situation will last and we have zero turnover. These are difficult times.”