A 1.5 meter economy unworkable for many cafes, restaurants: Hospitality Assoc.

Implementing social distancing of 1.5 meters once hospitality businesses in the Netherlands are allowed to reopen, will be unworkable for many cafes, restaurants and other catering and hospitality establishments, according to hospitality association KHN. Keeping businesses closed for longer is also not an option. There must be some wiggle room, according to KHN, AD reports.

Restaurants, cafes, bars and other catering and hospitality businesses in the Netherlands must keep their doors closed until at least April 28. Much is still uncertain about what will happen after that. KHN understands that these businesses cannot just open like before the coronavirus crisis, because the risks make that impossible. But "any longer closings than the hitherto announced April 28 will mean even more loss of turnover and an increased risk of bankruptcies and job losses for the sector."

Prime Minister Mark Rutte said that a 1.5 meter economy will have to be the new normal in the Netherlands, for the time being at least. But that is not possible for everyone, according to KHN. As an example, the association mentioned an average cafe of 70 to 80 square meters. Such a cafe can normally accommodate 100 guests. "If you have to keep a distance of 1.5 meters, it can accommodate about 14 guests and your turnover will be at least six times lower." That is not enough to keep businesses' heads above water. 

KHN submitted a draft protocol for how catering businesses can guarantee social distancing to the Ministry of Economic Affairs, but added that this protocol is impossible for around 45 thousand companies. The KHN would therefor like to see a distinction made in the protocols between different catering establishments. 

The association also said that the government's current emergency package is helping the sector in various areas, but that it "by no means covers" all ongoing costs. Additional measures are needed. According to KHN, if action is not taken quickly by the government, unions, banks, suppliers, and landlords, some 66 percent of catering establishments will topple by July 1st.