Few restaurants fined for not checking Covid access passes
Dutch municipalities have hardly issued any fines to bars and restaurants that failed to check coronavirus access passes. While things often go wrong, a good conversation is usually enough to solve the problems, the municipalities said to Trouw.
The newspaper spoke to 20 municipalities and found that most of them haven't issued a single fine since the coronavirus access pass became mandatory in the catering, cultural, and events sectors on September 25. Some have imposed sanctions once or twice, usually temporary closure.
The municipalities mostly opt for risk-oriented checks, which means that enforcers inspect if they suspect something is wrong - for example, after a report from a visitor or a suspicious post on social media.
"First, we will visit with a low threshold. If that doesn't work, a written warning will follow. But we really notice that people are receptive to it. It leads to improvement everywhere," a spokesperson for Utrecht said to Trouw. The only exception in the city is Waku Waku, a vegan restaurant eventually closed by the municipality after repeated refusals to comply with the rules. Rotterdam, Leeuwarden, and various other cities also follow this approach.
In Amsterdam, it is policy not to issue fines. The city uses closure for a week as the ultimate sanction if conversations don't work. In most cases, that is a harder blow than a fine. So far, Amsterdam hasn't had to close any businesses.
Leiden said it imposed sanctions twice but also noted that "good conversations" have convinced many unwilling entrepreneurs.
Hospitality association KHN confirmed that it is only aware of "a handful" of fines and warnings. The association said it receives compliments from mayors on catering establishments' willingness to cooperate. KHN did note that catering businesses are facing annoyance and sometimes even threats from guests.