New Covid rules not set in stone yet, PM says; Hospitality industry worried
Prime Minister Mark Rutte would say little about the new measures against the coronavirus that will be announced at a press conference on Friday evening. "It is not the case that anything is going to happen today or tomorrow," Rutte said in parliament on Thursday. "We are still in talks wit the security regions. All decisions have yet to be taken."
Rumors are that the measures will mainly affect the catering industry in the regions which have high coronavirus infections - Amsterdam-Amstelland, Rotterdam-Rijnmond, Haaglanden, Utrecht, Kennemerland, and Hollands Midden. Catering establishments will have to close their doors at midnight, and everyone has to leave by 1:00 a.m., according to ANP. Groups in catering establishments will also be limited to 50 people maximum.
Dirk Beljaarts, director of hospitality association KHN, called these measures "symbolic politics" by the government, so that they can appear decisive. According to him, the measures will lead to a disruption of public order - if all the bars, restaurants and cafes empty out at one time, the nightlife crowd will not go home but move into public space like parks and squares. That will cause problems for public order and enforcement, he said.
Beljaarts also told Brabants Dagblad, that closing bars at midnight in some areas, will result in a rush of nightlife crowds to other areas. "And so young visitors in particular go to Brabant, for example," he said. "At that time, they really won't be lying in bed with a book." According to Beljaarts, entrepreneurs in surrounding municipalities expect "a large influx of bar visitors this weekend especially, around midnight". "They are very concerned about that," he said.
Breda KHN chairman Johan de Vos was confused by Beljaarts statements. "I have no idea where he got that from," he said to Brabants Dagblad. "I immediately contacted other Brabant authorities. But nobody recognizes this in Tilburg, Eindhoven, Den Bosch or Roosendaal either. We were all sitting quietly on the couch and suddenly the telephone is ringing off the hook."
The tightened measures in the affected security regions will be announced in more detail at the press conference, scheduled for 7:00 p.m. on Friday. These regions are Amsterdam-Amstelland, Rotterdam-Rijnmond, Haaglanden, Utrecht, Kennemerland, and Hollands Midden, according to ANP.