Lockdown extension a blow for Dutch businesses; More support needed
Businesses in the Netherlands were disheartened by reports that the government will be extending the current hard lockdown, which was supposed to end on January 19, by three weeks. More financial support will be needed to prevent a tsunami of bankruptcies, various business organizations said to Dutch media.
Retailers' association INRetail called the extension a downer for shopkeepers. "Especially because we think it can be done safely in shops," director Udo Delfgou said to NOS. According to him, the extension comes as no surprise. "Retailers reacted very differently to this news. Some understand, but there is also a lot of misunderstanding, because we do not think that shopping is unsafe. Moreover, it feels unfair that certain shops, which sit close against non-essential - are allowed to be open."
Some retailers have threatened to reopen, no matter what the lockdown rules say. But according to Delfgou, that's just an outpouring of emotion. "What is most important to us is that the support is extended." Sources told Dutch media that the government will extend its support packages, along with the lockdown. "We have continuously called out that the support measures offered are a drop in the ocean and do not prevent countless retailers from going bankrupt. So the support package is very important to us, but we won't celebrate too soon: first see what exactly it entails," Delfgou said to the broadcaster.
Hospitality association KHN called the extension of the lockdown "the worst news for entrepreneurs in the new year". Given the high coronavirus infection figures and the rumors of the past days, the association was not surprised by the extension, but it is still "extremely miserable", a spokesperson for KHN said to NOS in a first response. "It is a confirmation of how bleak the situation is." According to the KHN, the hospitality industry absolutely needs additional support. "But we don't know what that will look like."
In addition to restaurants and other catering establishments, hotels are also in desperate need of extra support. If the government does not provide more support quickly, many hotels will go bankrupt, director Freek van der Valk of the Van der Valk hotel in Ridderkerk said to Nieuwsuur. "I don't want to beg or be pathetic, but hotels are really going to fall if nothing is done."