Mayors, catering sector call access passes & midnight closing times unfeasible
The catering sector and mayors in the Netherlands are not excited by the relaxation of coronavirus restrictions that the cabinet announced on Tuesday evening. Everyone over the age of 13 will have to show a coronavirus access pass when going to a catering facility, theater, or cinema. And nightclubs will be allowed to reopen, but with midnight as closing time. Checking every customer is unfeasible. And early closing times will make reopening not worth it for many businesses, mayors and the sector said.
Hospitality association KHN expects that the announced restrictions, combined with the fact that coronavirus support packages are lapsing next month, will mean that catering entrepreneurs will not enforce the coronavirus rules. "This is asking too much. Support for the current measures was already low among catering entrepreneurs, but with this extension and reinforcement, I expect that a line will be crossed and that many catering entrepreneurs will no longer enforce the rules. I understand that feeling," said KHN chairman Rober Willemsen.
According to KHN general director Dirk Beljaarts, the cabinet decided for this ridiculous reopening of nightclubs for a few hours per night because it fears it's going to lose the lawsuit the association filed against it. The case appeared in court on Tuesday, with KHN demanding that nightclubs be allowed to reopen without forced closing times. The court will rule on Friday. "This is actually just as bad as the complete closure," Beljaarts said. "What are you going to do between 10:00 p.m. and midnight? Because the nightlife does not start earlier. No breakfasts will be served."
Hubert Bruls, mayor of Nijmegen and chairman of the Security Council, called it unfeasible to check every cafe and restaurant visitor for a coronavirus access pass. For the time being, the 25 mayors on the Security Council will mainly intervene when there are excessive problems at catering businesses, he said in Nieuwsuur. "We're really not going to personally check every visitor to a cafe now. We never did that. We don't have the people for that, so that's not going to happen," Bruls said.
Bruls also called it illogical to close night catering establishments like nightclubs at midnight if a coronavirus access pass is already required.
A coronavirus access pass is proof that you've either been vaccinated against Covid-19, recently tested negative for the coronavirus, or recently recovered from it and therefore have immunity. This proof can be displayed via a QR code on the government's CoronaCheck app.
Mayor Jan van Zanen of The Hague said something similar to RTL Nieuws. "As far as I am concerned, the introduction of a coronavirus access pass should be accompanied by more freedom. That is why I believe that if you use the QR code, it should also lead to further relaxation for the night catering for example," he said. "If catering establishments close at midnight, it means they lose the turnover of the last few rounds. This must be compensated and I argued for this in the Security Council."
Amsterdam mayor Femke Halsema worries that closing nightclubs at midnight will demotivate young people to get vaccinated against the coronavirus. "Young people in particular, whose vaccination rate is low, should be tempted in all sorts of ways to get the shot. Continued closure of clubs and night businesses may reduce motivation," she said via a spokesperson. "Why should the system of only letting in vaccinated or tested people work at 11:30 p.m. but not at 12:30 a.m.?"
Halsema said she asked the cabinet to reconsider this measure. "The desire of young people to finally start their social life again must be taken seriously. Moreover, the night catering industry has been paying a very high price for the coronavirus crisis for a long time."
Reporting by ANP and NL Times.