Court: Dutch restaurants must remain closed for partial lockdown
A request for a temporary injunction against the Dutch government's four-week shutdown of the restaurant and bar sector was rejected by a court in The Hague on Tuesday. The court case was brought by a group of catering entrepreneurs angered by the shutdown, part of the government-ordered partial lockdown to stop the increasing spread of coronavirus infections.
The court said that the rule which closed cafes, bars, restaurants and coffeeshops to everything but takeaway last Wednesday was not improper, according to broadcaster NOS. Attorneys on behalf of the Cabinet said the extraordinary measure was needed to limit the amount of people encountered within a close physical distance.
“We are in the middle of the second wave. For the time being it is still swelling instead of weakening. If no drastic measures are taken, regular healthcare will have to be scaled down even further. The provision of acute care could then also be jeopardized," the attorney argued, according to a report in the Telegraaf.
"A complete closure of at least four weeks is disastrous for the hospitality businesses, and in many cases fatal," attorney Simon van Zijll said in court on behalf of the restauranteurs. He argued that the measures against the catering industry were disproportionate. "An experiment for which no good basis can be found."
"You could even argue that the choice to close restaurants can actually lead to more infections," said Michael Meeuwisse. He is the owner of De Posthoorn in The Hague, and was the original plaintiff in a case which was joined by dozens of other business owners. “We certainly do not dispute that the virus is contagious," he said, stating that restaurants contribute to a relatively low percentage of new infections.
A day earlier, Justice Minister Ferdinand Grapperhaus made it clear that the Cabinet thought it was too soon to reopen catering establishments, the restaurants could count on public support for their plight to be allowed to operate. A survey by Hart van Nederland showed that 77 percent of Netherlands residents think restaurants should be allowed to open if they follow the coronavirus rules, and 60 percent said they supported this lawsuit.
At a meeting of the Security Council on Monday, Grapperhaus argued that reopening restaurants would be counterproductive to the government's goals in reducing the number of coronavirus infections. "We recognize that many catering establishments, cinemas and entrepreneurs have done their best and have adhered to the rules," the Justice Minister said.
"But right now we need to reduce group sizes, reduce movements."
Some 75 percent of respondents to the Hart van Nederland survey said that they are supporting restaurants during the lockdown by ordering take-out meals.