Most municipalities turning a blind eye to social distancing violations in restaurants: report

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

Municipalities throughout the Netherlands seem to be turning a blind eye to violations of coronavirus measures in restaurants, cafes and other catering establishments. While municipalities notice that social distancing measures are increasingly being ignored, virtually no fines have been issued for the catering industry, AD reports after surveying 56 Dutch municipalities, spread evenly across large, medium, and small municipalities. 

Since catering establishments were allowed to reopen on June 1, they've had to adhere to strict coronavirus rules. Guests must stay 1.5 meters apart, unless they're from the same household. They must be seated. And if they're seated inside, this is only allowed by reservation. Catering establishments who do not adhere to these rules face a fine of 4 thousand euros. But very few fines have been issued so far. Instead, municipalities seem to opt for warnings, with 141 official warnings issued since June 1.

Municipalities only act on "excesses", mayor Hubert Bruls of Nijmegen, chairman of the council for the country's 25 security regions, previously said. Though he later added that mayors will be stricter in the future, the municipality of Amersfoort told AD: "The most important thing is that we mainly want to keep in touch with the catering industry and look for solutions together if there are bottlenecks."

The surveyed municipalities told AD that catering establishments and customers are largely adhering to the rules, but they've notice an increase in violations recently. 

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