Vegan restaurant refuses Covid access pass in stand-off with Utrecht mayor
Vegan restaurant WAKU WAKU in Utrecht was the scene of protests on Monday evening. The municipality ordered the restaurant on Vredenburg closed because the owners announced that they wouldn't be checking coronavirus access passes. The restaurant still opened on Monday and protesters gathered to make sure it could stay open, RTV Utrecht reported.
"We want this entrepreneur to be allowed to stay open until 11:00 p.m. tonight," a spokesperson for the few dozen protesters who gathered at WAKU WAKU said to the broadcaster. "Otherwise we are all going to have a very long evening."
Police officers were deployed to the restaurant. At around 9:45 p.m. a police spokesperson said to the broadcaster that the people inside WAKU WAKU would be asked to leave. "If that doesn't happen, we will force people," the police spokesperson said.
In the end it did not come to that. The protesters outside said they would hang around until 11:00 p.m. to make sure that the restaurant could stay open that late. The police did not want to escalate matters, so left things as they were.
At around 11:30 p.m., the police asked demonstrators to leave. Although it took a while for everyone to give heed, the worst of the unrest seemed to be over by then and calm returned to the street. The owner of the restaurant closed at midnight without police intervention.
The municipality of Utrecht ordered WAKU WAKU to close its doors after the owners of the restaurant said on Facebook that they will not be checking coronavirus access passes, which have been mandatory in the catering sector since Saturday.
"The fact that the government is using the catering industry to increase the vaccination rate is unethical and wrong," the owners wrote on the WAKU WAKU Facebook page. "We will NOT cooperate with this, because everyone is welcome with us regardless of origin, religion, sexual orientation or medical status."