Concerns for Dutch catering industry remain despite reopening

Cafe de Tropen in Amsterdam expanding its terrace into the courtyard of the Tropenmuseum in preparation for terraces reopening on 1 June 2020. Sign asks visitors to not move the tables which were organized with social distancing in mind. 29 May 2020
Cafe de Tropen in Amsterdam expanding its terrace into the courtyard of the Tropenmuseum in preparation for terraces reopening on 1 June 2020. Sign asks visitors to not move the tables which were organized with social distancing in mind. 29 May 2020NL TimesNL Times

The catering industry in the Netherlands is still in danger, despite restaurants, bars, and cafes being allowed to open with anti-coronavirus measures on Monday. While people went out to support their local terraces, some places were much quieter than expected. And the weather will not always be warm and sunny, KHN, the industry association fo restaurants, cafes, and hotels, said to Het Parool.

"The visit started slowly on Monday," Horeca Nederland director Dirk Beljaarts said to the newspaper. "And we saw very few reservations. Making a reservation in a cafe is not in our DNA, you will not develop that in five minutes. We expected more for restaurants. But the booking sites we had contact with were very disappointed."

Terraces filled up in many places, but not everywhere. "I was in Haarlem on Monday afternoon, it was really quiet there. You could just go sit down on some terraces. I hadn't expected that on such a first day, with a lot of sun."

At the terraces that did run full, it seemed "that everyone was complying with doing this responsibly," Beljaarts said. "I haven't' seen any craziness, no lines or hassle. People see it as a reward for their good behavior. They have adhered well to the corona measures and now they are allowed back on the terrace and to the restaurants as a thank you."

"It is great that we can receive guests again. But the catering industry will continue to run at a loss. The consumer should not think that it is normal again from now on. We are still going bankrupt, maybe not now, but in a few months. The battle is not over yet," Beljaarts said to the newspaper. "I warn against too much optimism. We must remain cautious, including with following al the rules. Also when the weather is not so nice. Inside, the restrictions are still insurmountable for many entrepreneurs. And next week it will be another week of rain, then I wonder how full the terraces will be."

Despite the concerns, KHN told NU.nl that it is pleased with how the first day of reopening went. "We received signals from all over the country that it was pleasantly busy in many cities. On terraces it was pleasantly busy, but not too full," the KHN said. "Hospitality entrepreneurs have really been looking forward to welcoming their guests again and are full of creative ideas to make something beautiful out of it in a responsible way." 

The reopening of the catering industry on Monday went smoothly for the most part. Only in Arnhem and Leeuwarden were cafes ordered closed because visitors were not adhering to social distancing measures in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus. 

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