Terraces open for the first time in six months as lockdown is eased
After an eventful King’s Day, Wednesday marked the day that a number of coronavirus restrictions were relaxed across the Netherlands: shops and terraces opened, the curfew was lifted, and people can now receive two household guests per day.
Dutch catering industry reopened after six months
After being closed for six months, the catering industry was relieved to finally welcome some customers again. While many business owners have made it clear that the partial reopening - combined with the strict rules outlined by the Dutch government - will do little to support their business, welcoming customers back onto terraces is definitely a step in the right direction.
With enforced opening hours of 12pm to 6pm, it is perhaps unsurprising that terraces weren’t overflowing with people. However, Koninklijke Horeca Nederland (KHN) - the largest union representing hospitality businesses in the Netherlands - spoke positively about the first day back at work: “The atmosphere was positive, friendly, and the terraces were well-filled throughout the country.”
Shops across the Netherlands opened doors to customers
The retail industry has also been granted additional freedoms from April 28, with shops scrapping the shopping by appointment system and opening their doors to all customers. Shops are now able to receive one customer per 25 square metres.
The government had been concerned about taking this step, fearing that it could lead to large crowds in Dutch cities and shopping streets. Indeed, many members of the public were keen to browse the shelves, as streets in Rotterdam and The Hague were buzzing with people and queues formed at Primarks and IKEAs across the country.
Trade union FNV had expressed their concern about the safety of shop staff, asking businesses to ensure their safety and enforce the coronavirus rules. Retail organisation INretail, on the other hand, were pleased with how “smoothly” the day went: “The Netherlands has 2.500 shopping areas and no alarms have been sounded anywhere...The overall picture gives a very positive impression.”
Medical experts concerned about hospital and intensive care admissions
The decision to lift restrictions was met with some criticism, as the number of coronavirus infections and hospitalisations remains high. This, combined with the large crowds that came together to celebrate King’s Day on Tuesday, means many health experts are concerned about the coronavirus situation in the Netherlands.
Hospitals say intensive care units are full, with staff working non-stop to care for the 2.614 coronavirus patients. Ernst Kuipers, chairman of the National Acute Care Network (LNAZ), has been relatively supportive of the relaxations, however warns that the number of intensive care admissions will remain high until mid-May.
Thumb via Amanda Weideman.