Fully reopen pubs and restaurants, but not to watch football: Security Minister
Caretaker Justice and Security Minister Ferd Grapperhaus has advocated for the full reopening of pubs in the next step of lockdown easing, ANP reported. Grapperhaus stated that all bars, cafés and restaurants should be allowed to reopen at the same time, regardless if their primary sales come from alcohol or food.
He wants the distinction dropped before the hospitality locations begin to open their indoor spaces.
Grapperhaus also said he does not want cafés to show the Dutch national team’s football matches on video screens during the upcoming European Championship. He is concerned that could lead to a rising number of Covid-19 infections.
The current six-step reopening roadmap suggests that restaurants are allowed to more fully reopen at the upcoming third step, followed by the full reopening of pubs at the next stage. According to Grapperhaus, this is not justified.
A spokesperson for Grapperhaus said in an explanation that the minister was aiming for a more balanced and equal reopening, according to ANP.
The distinction between “wet” and “dry” hospitality locations is "so difficult to establish," said Grapperhaus, which adds an additional layer of complexity. "And besides, the people who have a pub have already waited even longer. Let's just ensure favorable rules now," he said.
"I think it is really too early to watch [football] in the pub," he also said, referring to the upcoming international tournament.
The mayors took the same stance and asked the Cabinet during the Security Council meeting Tuesday night not to allow any large screens. According to them, mass gatherings of fans watching the games together should be made impossible both indoors and outdoors, including in catering industry facilities and on public squares.
"The experience of previous European and World Championships shows that people clump together in front of the screens. Then it becomes too busy. Then the 1.5-meter measure is violated and then you have another problem", said council chair Hubert Bruls, who also is the Nijmegen mayor.
Catering industry lobby group KHN said Grapperhaus’s statements were 'very strange'. According to the organization’s head, Robèr Willemsen, the catering industry has shown for weeks that they can receive guests safely and responsibly. He expected that the relaxation will continue as planned and people should be able to watch football in a safe environment.
“In recent months it has become clear that the infections take place at home and not in a controlled environment such as the catering industry. With this call, the minister shows that he is far removed from reality, ”said Willemsen.
The European Championships will be staged from June 11 to July 11 across eleven host cities, including early round matches in Amsterdam.