Some restaurants, bars to defy Dutch ban and will re-open January 17
A collection of hospitality industry entrepreneurs said on Wednesday that regardless if the government plans to lift the country out of the current partial lockdown, their bars, cafes and restaurants will open to the public on January 17 three months after they were ordered closed. The government measure was introduced to slow the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 novel coronavirus, but the hospitality industry has maintained the second wave of infections were in no way linked to their businesses.
The move was announced by several dozen local branches of hospitality association Koninklijke Horeca Nederland (KHN). The national organization itself said it does not support the threat to re-open, said Johan de Vos. He is a member of the Breda branch of the KHN, and acted as a spokesperson for the group which plans to defy the government order, including locations in Alkmaar, Arnhem, Eindhoven, Leeuwarden, Leiden, Maastricht and Nijmegen.
"It is simply not possible to close the doors until the end of January or even longer," De Vos stated. He said many hospitality businesses were treading water for so long that they are now on the brink of collapse. "There is now nothing more than the choice of opening or going bankrupt."
Health Minister Hugo de Jonge recently said that he foresaw the partial lockdown continuing beyond mid-January if the number of infections did not continue to fall. Though the rate of those testing positive has dropped to about 11 percent, an average of around five thousand people were still diagnosed with the viral infection on each of the past seven days.
The choice to open on January 17 was to prevent anyone from claiming that a spike in infections during the last month of the year or the first two weeks of January was because of the restauranteurs. He said if such a surge happens, it will be because of crowds in popular shopping areas, holiday parties, and family get-togethers.
Those who will open their businesses back up to the public will do so "safely and responsibly," De Vos said. "Everything at a safe distance, and operating at normal opening hours."
The national leader of the KHN, Rober Willemsen, told Radio 1 that he was still trying to engage Finance Minister Wopke Hoekstra in discussions that could open the door to more financial support for the hospitality industry. So far, Willemsen has been unable to secure any new commitments from the Cabinet.
Bars, cafes and restaurants affected by the second wave closure are entitled to a one-off payment averaging about 2,500 euros in addition to the national wage support scheme and compensation for fixed costs.