Actually, because of the lockdown, ALL pubs and restaurants in the Netherlands have had to remain closed since December 19th – but at the weekend, innkeepers across the country flouted the ban and opened their restaurants. They are protesting because they are excluded from the easing that was decided on Friday.
After weeks of pressure from entrepreneurs, Prime Minister Mark Rutte (54) decided that shops, hairdressers and sports clubs as well as universities could reopen from Saturday. However, restaurants, museums, theaters and cinemas must remain closed. “Everything doesn’t work at once,” said Rutte on Friday. The risk is too great.
The guest of a student café in Zwolle sees it differently. “Reopening the catering trade in a controlled manner seems to me to be better than everyone having parties at home,” he told the Dutch news agency ANP. In the 120,000-resident city alone, 30 restaurateurs opened their pubs, cafés and restaurants, as the “Volkskrant” reports.
But what do the numbers say?
More than 35,000 new infections were registered on Friday – more than ever before. However, the number of hospital admissions has been falling steadily since mid-December. While an average of 274 corona patients were hospitalized on December 12, the last time it was 19.6.
Small towns support hosts, metropolitan ones don’t
The illegal opening of bars was coordinated with the city administration in many places. More than 50 communities supported the action, most of them in the province. In Valkenburg, Mayor Daan Prevoo classified the action as a demonstration. “Demonstrating is a fundamental right,” he told TV station WNL. Therefore, the police will not intervene.
“We want to set an example,” said the Zwolle café operator Arno de Boer to the “Volkskrant”. De Boer runs four restaurants and says he had to owe around 170,000 euros during the pandemic to keep his company going. “Tax debts, rent debts, I even had to borrow something from my mother. In the next few years I will mainly work to pay everything back,” he told the newspaper.
The mayors of the four largest cities in the Netherlands, Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam and Utrecht, banned the protest. The Mayor of Utrecht, Sharon Dijksma, promised to continue to relax the Corona regulations for restaurants. Rutte’s government announced that there might be further easing at the end of the month.