Business owners stunned by possible new lockdown
Many entrepreneurs were shocked that the Netherlands could be headed for a complete lockdown again, chair of the business owner's organization Ondernemend Nederland, Hans Biesheuvel said. On Friday, the Outbreak Management Team (OMT) advised the Cabinet to introduce strict Covid-19 measures.
After two previous lockdowns in which, among other businesses, bars, restaurants, retail stores, cultural institutions and cinemas were subject to strict coronavirus restrictions, the support of entrepreneurs has declined sharply, according to Biesheuvel. "At the start of the pandemic, most companies were still in relatively good. But now, they have about 20 billion euros in tax debt, private debts and only a few reserves," Biesheuvel said.
According to insiders, the OMT advised closing all sectors except essential stores such as supermarkets, pharmacies, and drugstores. Whether the Cabinet will follow the advice remains to be seen on Saturday, but Biesheveul expected that the final decision would not differ much.
Business owners are in disbelief about the impending closure of non-essential stores. "It is, of course, only an advice but suppose this advice is completely adopted then, that is a huge blow not only for the sector but also for society," a spokesperson for INretail said. "If you close everything one week before Christmas when people still want to arrange all kinds of things, I wonder whether this is an intelligent approach."
The retail owners' association warned against chaotic scenes if people want to do their shopping quickly in the coming days. The weeks around Christmas are usually the busiest of the year for retail stores. In addition, INretail thinks there is hardly any support in the Dutch population for a total lockdown.
Reporting by ANP.