Hospitality businesses will be fined if they open without permission, Minister warns
Minister of Justice and Security, Ferd Grapperhaus warned in a speech on Friday morning that bars and restaurants that choose to open their doors in violation of coronavirus restrictions in the coming week will be fined. In extreme cases, Grapperhaus says permanently closing rule-breaking businesses will be possible.
Johan de Vos said Grapperhaus was hitting below the belt and making disproportionate threats. The vice-chair of the Breda branch of the catering industry association (KHN) said, “I think it is really uncalled for to react to the plight of catering businesses in this manner.” He told the AD, “Since October the minister has only been looking at upholding the rules and has not been looking into what is possible.”
Together with business owners, Grapperhaus has stated to be looking for a date when the hospitality industry will be able to welcome guests again. He emphasizes he does not want hopes to run too high. “If much would have possible, the prime minister would have had a different message.” The government is worried that rising infection rates will cause hospitals to be overrun with patients fighting Covid-19. Both prime minister, Mark Rutte and health minister, Hugo de Jonge have cautioned that if the situation worsens further restrictions would be implemented.
The KHN spoke with Grapperhaus on Friday morning to receive updates on when the hospitality industry will be able to open up again.
Grapperhaus has previously stated that he is aware the hospitality industry is in deep trouble. “I have complete understanding that people are slowly getting tired of the restrictions.”
Some hospitality industry entrepreneurs said they want to open up their terraces to customers next week regardless of social restrictions, due to frustration and financial fears.
In terms of how officials are to react to the defiance, a spokesperson for the Security Council says, “Each municipality will have to make their own assessment. The principle is that if you deliberately open your terrace, you will be fined.”
Across the country, the call for loosening restrictions has also been heard in the sports sector. Fitness studios and sports clubs, for example, are appealing to the government to allow for group training to take place again outside, especially with favorable weather conditions predicted.
On Monday, the 25 security regions will meet with among others, Minister Grapperhaus and Health Minister, Hugo de Jonge, to discuss how the situation will progress. The regional offices have previously stated that they would like to see more leniency when it comes to the new rules.
They believe the nation approach is too “black-and-white”, ignoring the grey area between being open to 100 percent capacity indoors and on terraces, or serving zero customers without exception.