Restaurants to defy coronavirus measures and open in January

Restaurants to defy coronavirus measures and open in January

Bars, cafes and restaurants in a number of regions across the Netherlands have announced plans to open on January 17, regardless of any coronavirus measures that are in place.

Catering establishments across the country set on opening in January

While the Dutch government are yet to announce the coronavirus measures that will be in place over the Christmas period - Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Health Minister Hugo de Jonge are expected to do this at a press conference on December 8 - De Jonge has stated that, if the number of coronavirus infections doesn’t drop over the coming weeks, it’s possible that the current semi-lockdown could stay in place until at least mid-January. 

However, catering establishments in 50 Dutch cities and regions announced on Wednesday that they plan on opening their doors on January 17, even if legally they are not allowed to. They said they have lost confidence in the Dutch cabinet to (financially) support them, and that if they don’t open their businesses will collapse. 

Businesses in Breda, Maastricht, Eindhoven, Leiden, Leeuwarden, Arnhem, Nijmegen and Alkmaar have joined the campaign, but all restaurants and bars that plan to open have also stated that, when open, they will continue to adhere to the safety measures demanded by the Dutch government (i.e. 1,5-metre distance between tables, registration upon arrival, face masks etc). 

Johan de Vos, who has spoken on behalf of all the businesses taking part in the decision, said catering establishments were on the verge of drowning: “It is logical that we want to fight coronavirus. But the way we have been treated recently is scandalous... At this rate, we can no longer keep our heads above water.”

Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht are not taking part (yet)

The union representing hospitality businesses in the Netherlands, Koninklijke Horeca Nederland (KHN), have stated they do not support the campaign, with a spokesperson calling it irresponsible. Businesses in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, and Utrecht have also refused to take part. 

The National Security Council has also voiced their dissatisfaction with the campaign, saying that catering establishments must comply with the government measures, and that police officers and BOAs (Community Service Officers) will supervise the situation in January.

"We understand that the need is great at many catering companies,” said Hubert Bruls, mayor of Nijmegen and Chairman of the Security Council, “But the coronavirus measures apply to all of us, individual citizens and entrepreneurs, and therefore also to catering businesses."

The Dutch government are still considering which measures, if any, might be lifted for the Christmas period. Cabinet ministers are discussing potentially allowing restaurants to open, increasing the maximum group size and number of household guests per day, and extending the school holidays.

Victoria Séveno


Victoria Séveno

Victoria grew up in Amsterdam, before moving to the UK to study English and Related Literature at the University of York and completing her NCTJ course at the Press Association...

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