Five Utrecht cafes welcome visitors for the first time in months as covid-free test begins
Five Utrecht city center cafes opened their doors to guests for the first time since bars, restaurants and cafes were ordered to close in mid-October during the height of the second wave of coronavirus infections. An opening event was held with Mayor Sharon Dijksma and Mona Keijzer, who serves as the state secretary at the Ministry of Economic Affairs.
The event was held at De Beurs, one of the five cafes involved in the three-day experiment to help determine how the hospitality sector can be safely reopened after the Covid-19 lockdown. Reporters at RTV Utrecht noted that too many people attended the event making social distancing impossible. "If the instructions are not followed by now, there is little that can be done about it," an event spokesperson told the broadcaster.
Media will not be allowed to enter the cafes during the rest of the test period, which continues through Saturday. More than half a million people tried to secure a reservation for one of the 90-minute time slots, but only 3,000 were eventually given a chance to participate in the event.
The bars participaing in the experiments are Hofman, De Beurs, Ubica, VinVin, and 't Oude Pierement. All 5 participating locations will be open for guests with reservations from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. All visitors must provide a negative coronavirus test along with a confirmation of their booking.
During the research, the scientists will look at how staff and guests interact in a cafe setting, and how people move through the environment. The Fieldlab Cafes tests were organized by the City of Utrecht, two catering industry associations and the Ministry of Economic Affairs.
“The insights gained from this trial in Utrecht are important for the reopening of cafés throughout the Netherlands. That is an important ray of hope for all catering entrepreneurs and their guests,” Utrecht Mayor Sharon Dijksma said when the events were first announced.
The experiment was scaled down from original plans in March after the daily number of coronavirus infections reported nationally rose by 60 percent.
While the catering sector has not been allowed to host guests for the past six months, they were allowed to serve takeaway customers.