Amsterdam halts Red Light District alcohol sales; Better crowd control planned

A street in the Red Light District in Amsterdam
A street in the Red Light District in Amsterdam rglinskyDepositPhotosDeposit Photos

Amsterdam is banning the sale of alcohol in shops in the Red Light District over the weekend, in an attempt to better control crowds in the popular area. More enforcement officers will be deployed to make sure everyone is adhering to social distancing. And day trippers and tourists will be urged to avoid crowds with targeted ads on their social media, the local security region Veiligiheidsregio Amsterdam-Amstelland announced on Thursday.

"We are taking these measures because we are responsible for the health of residents and visitors," said Femke Halsema, mayor of Amsterdam and chairman of the security region. "This includes an urgent appeal to everyone who visits our city, be careful, avoid crowds, and follow the corona rules. It is very important that everyone keeps their distance from each other, both the Amsterdammer and the international tourist. On the street and in the catering industry. Only together can we prevent new outbreaks of the virus. A new lockdown is the last thing we want."

The sale of alcohol in Red Light District shops will be banned from 4:00 p.m. on Thursday until midnight on Sunday. According to the security region, alcohol bought from these stores is often consumed on the street. This results in people not keeping their distance from each other, and makes enforcement more difficult. This ban will be in effect until September 1.

The city is also going to use social media to dissuade people from visiting Amsterdam during peak times. People showing interest in visiting the city will be actively called on social media to do so in the week, between Monday and Thursday. These targeted ads will be in Dutch, English, and German, to make sure that all potential visitors can understand. Tourists who are already in Amsterdam will also be alerted to the coronavirus measures via advertisements on social media.

These measures come on top of measures already implemented over the past weeks, such as one-way traffic in the Red Light District on weekend nights, and on Kalverstraat on weekend days. Street artists are banned from the Museumplein until September 1, as they tend to draw crowds. Areas that get too crowded will be closed down temporarily, but residents will always be able to enter or leave, the security region said.