Association to help restaurants fight social distancing fines after A'dam anti-racism protest

Hospitality association KHN is calling on restaurant owners to report if they were fined for not adhering to social distancing rules over the past days, a spokesperson confirmed to NL Times. The association is looking into whether these fines can be fought in court. According to KHN, these fines are unfair given that no social distancing fines were issued at a crowded demonstration in Amsterdam on Monday.

"KHN also calls on entrepreneurs to report if they have received a corona fine. In many cases, these fines are considered unfair. KHN is now investigating the possibilities of starting a legal process in order to also create legal precedence," the spokesperson said to NL Times.

KHN director Dirk Beljaarts said the same to L1. "It feels like injustice, especially after Monday," he said. It is not right that catering entrepreneurs are fined while thousands of people can gather in Amsterdam without consequence, he said. 

According to Beljaarts, he received many phone calls from upset restaurant owners. "The entrepreneurs I talked to were not happy, they did not respond well. It was experienced as a slap in the face of catering entrepreneurs, and then I put it softly. And not only for the catering entrepreneurs, but for everyone who has complied with the rules in this way. This simply cannot be explained."

The demonstration in Amsterdam was against racism and police brutality, and to show support for people in the United States protesting these same issues following the death in police custody of George Floyd. Some 5 thousand people participated in the Amsterdam demonstration, meaning that Dam Square was so crowded that social distancing was impossible.

Mayor Femke Halsema of Amsterdam said that the city had expected far fewer protesters because of unrealistic estimations. As a result, when the police informed her the crowd had grown to some 5 thousand people, the only intervention possible would have been to send in the police. She decided against this, so as not to escalate the situation

It was a difficult decision, she said in a letter to the Amsterdam city council. "Acting could lead to escalation, violence, panic and people getting crushed. At the same time, failure to act represented a risk for the spread of the coronavirus."

Minister Ferdinand Grapperhaus of Justice and Security, who called the images of the crowded Dam Square painful to see, said he understands Halsema's decision not to intervene. "I do not want the police and protesters to be pitted against each other," he said during question hour in the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament, on Tuesday.