Many NL bars can't afford to reopen under coroanvirus rules

Terrace cordoned off in Amsterdam, 27 May 2020
Terrace cordoned off in Amsterdam, 27 May 2020NL TimesNL Times

Despite bars, restaurants and cafes finally being allowed to reopen in the Netherlands on Monday, many will be keeping their doors shut for the time being. Many of the smaller establishments physically can't manage to adhere to social distancing and keep everyone 1.5 meters apart. And some who can will be able to accommodate so few customers that opening is not financially possible, AD reports.

Hospitality association KHN could not tell the newspaper exactly how many restaurants, bars and cafes will remain closed on Monday, but estimated a few dozen at least. "Keeping a meter and a half apart is technically impossible in quite a few situations. But it will not be financially profitable for most catering businesses either," a spokesperson said to AD. 

That is true for music cafe Dollars in Nijmegen. If owner Maarten Rooijakkers cordons off the areas where social distancing is impossible, like the bar and the bathrooms, he will only be able to accommodate around 30 customers at a time - less than 10 percent of his usual custom, he said to the newspaper. "If you don't at least make back all of the costs, opening makes no sense. At most I am helping to reduce public debt because I need less government support," he said.

Restaurant De Koe in Volendam is also staying closed. Its usual custom consists mainly of tourists from outside the European Union. And as tourism is still banned, opening would not be worth much, co-owner Pieter Jonk said to the newspaper. 

Heineken brewery alone expects that about half of the over 800 businesses it supplies will remain closed. When all bars were ordered closed in April and May, the Dutch beer giant did not charge for tap rental. But now that the catering industry can open again, Heineken informed its customers that it will have to start collecting tap rent again.

The brewer is looking into whether it can offer discounts or whether beer prices can be adjusted, spokesperson Menno van der Vlist said to AD. But it can't afford to waive rents any longer. "The pain of this crisis is felt by everyone. Also by Heineken." Heineken is willing to talk to each entrepreneur individually to see if arrangements can be made, Van der  Vlist said. "No situation is the same. We're really doing what we can."