Judge orders Utrecht restaurant to stay shut for defying Covid check rules
An Utrecht vegan restaurant whose owners refuse to check their guests for coronavirus access passes was ordered to remain closed for the time being, the administrative court in Utrecht ruled on Thursday. The municipality on Tuesday closed Waku Waku, and changed the locks on the doors, because of their continued refusal to check the passes, which have been mandatory since Saturday.
Shortly after the court issued the ruling, protestors gathered in front of the location. Police arrested over a hundred people for demonstrating there on the Vredenburg on Wednesday in defiance of rules forbidding them from blocking bus lanes, bicycle paths and entrances to other cafes. They were offered an alternative demonstration location 700 meters away at Jaarbeursplein, but they refused to leave.
Waku Waku does not want to check their guests because they claim doing so would discriminate against some customers. The restaurant has indicated that it will not comply with the rule. The mayor's intervention was justified, according to the court. The minister of health introduced the current control measure to combat the coronavirus, and the municipalities are responsible for enforcement.
The measure curtails fundamental rights, according to Waku Waku, and said the situation is part of a double standard. It argued that supermarkets and department stores, for example, do not have to make coronavirus pass checks even though many people also gather there.
The court is not the one to determine the best way to fight the pandemic, the court said in its ruling. "What the court does is check whether the measures taken by the minister are reasonable." Waku Waku's questions about the current policy are valid, but the minister was allowed to draw a line to present a different approach for hospitality businesses, the court said. That included the suspension of the 1.5-meter social distancing rule and requiring coronavirus pass checks instead.
The owners of the restaurant are "massively disappointed," they said immediately afterward via their spokesperson. "They are going to take a step back for a few days, but they are not yet done and will continue to fight." The spokesperson said that follow-up actions are under consideration. It is not possible to appeal against the decision.
The ruling confirms that Utrecht's mayor, Sharon Dijksma, and the municipality acted appropriately, she said. "I am aware that the measures to combat the coronavirus are drastic. They are in the best interests of everyone, and we must stick to them," she said.
Reporting by ANP