Lockdown advice met with trepidation from sports, entertainment, businesses
News that the Outbreak Management Team advised the Cabinet to put the Netherlands in a two-week-long lockdown sparked trepidation in various sectors in the country. The KNVB hopes that football stadiums will be excluded. Sinterklaas associations are holding their breath to find out whether their arrival parties can happen this weekend. Hospitality association KHN warned that new restrictions could have dire consequences for the catering industry.
According to football association KHN, restrictive measures on stadium visits could even hurt the Covid figures. "Because people will then visit each other at home to watch football without checks," said a spokesperson for the KNVB. "About 90 percent of the infections take place at home, at work, or when visiting friends or family. So it is safer to visit a match than to receive people at home. You are in your place in the open air for 90 minutes and always in combination with a good check of the coronavirus access pass."
"The figures are rising fast, and we understand that this situation requires new measures," said the KNVB. "We are awaiting the decision of the Cabinet, but professional football has things in order. We have competent and professional organizations that always check the access pass. Otherwise, you don't get in. Hundreds of matches have now been played with an audience, and not a single match has led to major coronavirus infections."
The various Sinterklaas committees are waiting to see what happens. "We assume that the arrival can continue as planned on Saturday, but we do have an alternative scenario up our sleeve," said Peter Boelhouwer of Sinterklaas in The Hague. "Everything is uncertain. If it becomes clear at the press conference tomorrow evening that it can't go through, we will come up with a different scenario." According to Boelhouwer, all 5,000 free tickets for the Sint's arrival in Scheveningen harbor have been granted. Adults must show a coronavirus access pass.
Construction of the arrival party in Amsterdam on Sunday already started, said Edger Peer, chairman of the Foundation Sinterklaas in Amsterdam. The foundation leaves the decision on whether or not the party can happen up to the competent authorities. "It is very stressful. We are in contact with the municipality almost every hour." Peer said the foundation did everything to make the arrival as corona-proof as possible. "But if the authorities said it is not possible, then we have to accept that."
The organization of the Sinterklaas arrival in Rotterdam is still confident that a possible lockdown will not affect the event in the Maasstad. "We don't expect the lockdown to start immediately." However, the organization did decide on Wednesday to require coronavirus access passes for the arrival at Willemsplein. There is room for 5,000 people around the harbor, but a spokesperson does not expect that so many will come. A QR code is not required for a spot along the route.
Employers organizations VNO-NCW and MKB Nederland said a new lockdown would be "sad." "We are waiting for the decision-making process, but ask politicians to really pull out all the stops to prevent new lockdowns. We also called and the Cabinet to do this yesterday. It is now especially essential that we accelerate the booster shot, new Covid drugs, and a targeted vaccination strategy," the organizations said in a statement.
A new lockdown requiring theaters to close will be a financial blow for producers, said Dian Hoelscher of the free theater producers' association VVTP. "Our limit has now really been reached. The measures constantly affect the same group of entrepreneurs. It would be the financial death blow for the non-subsidized producers, but also the actors and crew."
Hospitality association KHN is not expecting additional restrictions for the catering industry but fears the consequences if they do come. "We assume there will be no restrictive measures. It would be idiotic to close the catering industry earlier if you consider that people will gather more privately," KHN chairman Rober Willemsen said. According to him, earlier closing times reflect negatively on the industry, causing guests to stay away and costing entrepreneurs turnover.
"And if you want 1.5 meters away again and don't want people to crisscross each other, then you're actually saying that the QR code doesn't work. Why are we checking it at all?" said Willemsen.
Reporting by ANP and NL Times.