Cafe terraces could reopen April 21; Curfew could be scrapped
The caretaker Cabinet in the Netherlands is considering a move to relax coronavirus lockdown restrictions by allowing cafes, bars and restaurants to open their outdoor terraces on April 21. The mandatory curfew, which takes effect every night at 10 p.m., could also be eliminated and stores could be allowed to open their doors to more customers, government sources told RTL Nieuws and NOS.
The Cabinet was considering a draft proposal to reducing or eliminating the coronavirus lockdown in up to six steps, RTL Nieuws reported. That could leave just basic advice in place, like staying home when experiencing symptoms of Covid-19, maintaining a safe social distance, and frequent hand washing.
If the Cabinet moves forward with the plan it will be announced at a press conference on Tuesday evening. No decision will be made without seeing how the coronavirus infection statistics develop over the next seven days. The government will consult with its advisors, the Outbreak Management Team, before moving forward by reducing aspects of the lockdown. A meeting between Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Cabinet members and OMT members is expected to take place at the prime minister's official residence on Sunday.
The catering businesses have been unable to serve customers at their locations for nearly six months. They are allowed to serve take away customers. Later this month, five cafes in Utrecht will be allowed to host customers in tailored experiments to determine any potential negative impact on the coronavirus situation. Some events and cultural facilities will also be allowed to host attendees for a three-day period by the end of the month during a similar trial.
The issue of reopening terraces was back in the news this week as the mayors of the four largest cities all said they wanted catering companies to be able to serve people outdoors. During periods of improved weather last week, the cities had to close down many of their parks as they were overcrowded in violation of rules regarding safe social distancing. Opening terraces would let cities ensure that people can be spread out more effectively.
Mayors discussed the issue at the Security Council meeting on Tuesday with Ferd Grapperhaus, the justice and security minister. He said the earliest the country could take new steps to emerge from lockdown was April 20, one week after Rutte's next press conference.
Members of the Outbreak Management Team have said the current wave of infections be reached by mid-April. After that, the high Covid-19 hospitalization figures should begin to taper off.