Public transit pleased with relaxed locked down; gyms, catering industry not so much

The industry association for public transit OV-NL is pleased with the step-by-step plan the government announced to ease the Netherlands out of its coronavirus lockdown. Hospitality association KHN is "glad there is perspective", but worried about the survival of many businesses. The fitness branch NL Actief is outraged that gyms and fitness clubs have to stay closed until September, NOS reports. 

"These are great measures," Pedro Peters of OV-NL said to the broadcaster. "These are completely in line with the advice we have given: a smart combination of measures." The government announced that trains, buses and trams can start running according to schedule again on June 1. Public transit users must wear mouth masks, and the occupancy of buses, trams, trains and subways must be limited to 40 percent. 

Despite the occupancy limit, the relaxation of the lockdown measures is still a significant step forward, according to Peters. "At the moment, we only transport 10 percent, so everything will start moving again from June 1." The association still called on Netherlands residents to only use public transport when necessary. 

Association for the fitness industry NL Actief called it unacceptable that fitness clubs have to remain closed until September 1. According to the organization, the government's arguments to postpone the opening, such as that social distancing is impossible, do not apply to the fitness  industry. NL Actief is also surprised that Prime Minister Mark Rutte said he wants to talk to the fitness industry, as there has already been "frequent consultation" with the Ministries involved and the RIVM, a spokesperson said to NOS.

"We are not going to accept that our industry must remain closed until September 1. The cabinet thus leaves 4 thousand entrepreneurs and more than 3 million Dutch people out in the cold," NL Actief said. "As an industry association, together with the entire network in our sector, we will therefore open al registers to challenge this decision. In addition, we demand that a new compensation scheme be introduced for the entrepreneurs and self-employed persons in our sector."

"I am happy that there is now some perspective," hospitality association KHN said to NOS. The association is still worried  about restaurants surviving, and is looking forward to finding out exactly what the government's second aid package will look like. 

Employers' association VNO-NCW called the relaxation of measures a boost for many entrepreneurs in difficult weather. "By restarting the closed sectors, we are reducing the depth and costs of the recession. But for all entrepreneurs who are still waiting or have limited access, we have to use the second emergency package to ensure that they are compensated. So that we maintain as many jobs and activities as possible. For many sectors, the impact is yet to come."