Cabinet will close non-essential shops at Schiphol after complaints
The Cabinet plans to order all non-essential shops in the secure area of Schiphol to close. This weekend, the shops behind the security and customs areas were allowed to remain open as an exception, while the non-essential shops were closed in the rest of the country, a detail which surprised many in Parliament. "My inclination would be to adopt that recommendation from the Kamer," Prime Minister Mark Rutte said of the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Parliament.
Rutte initially said that he wanted to keep the rules at the airport the same as the rules in other countries. Moreover, travelers are already mixed together behind customs on the airside portion of Schiphol. The prime minister changed his mind because he had noticed that the situation is considered complicated because different rules apply at the airport than on the high street. By closing the shops at the airport anyway, fewer people will walk together, and fewer workers will be needed at the airport, Rutte said.
Workers told regional broadcaster NH Nieuws that they felt threatened to continue arriving at work day after day while the rest of the country is in a lockdown. "Our employer said that we have to be happy we still have a job," an anonymous Schiphol employee told the broadcaster. "There is a culture of fear. If they find out we contacted the media out of despair, we could get fired."
An emergency order must be drawn up to close the shops. The Cabinet wants to do that next week.
During the coronavirus debate, various parties expressed their incomprehension for the exception afforded to the shops at the airports. "Certainly if you are an entrepreneur, it is unbearable that the fun shops are open at Schiphol," said Volt MP Nilüfer Gündoğan.
Christine Teunissen of the PvdD also commented on this. She called Schiphol an "enclave", and pointed out several issues, including the risk that shop staff run at the airport.
When asked, D66 MP Jan Paternotte said that he understood Teunissen's reservations about keeping the shops open. "I think that's a very strange signal and I don't think it's necessary." Paternotte's party is in the current Cabinet, and is expected to participate in the next.
Reporting by ANP and NL Times.