Valkenburg stores, restaurants open in protest against lockdown
Many shops and catering establishments in the once-bustling heart of Valkenburg aan de Geul opened their doors at 10:00 a.m. Friday morning. The mood is good in the hilly Limburg town. But above all, the shop- and restaurant owners have many concerns.
"It is not fair that the Cabinet wants to leave the catering industry closed," said Sophie Frederiks, owner of El Fuego and Brazza on Grotestraat. "We want to show that it can be done safely."
"Even if they start with terraces," she continued. "At least that's something." The floods in July utterly destroyed El Fuego. "Everything was broken." The store has just been completely rebuilt and furnished, said Frederiks. "But it takes too long. It's teething."
The owner of 't Hoekje started putting out chairs and building the terrace at 9:00 a.m. He doesn't know if many guests will come. "But it's about the statement," he said. Also, owner Maurice Dieren of clothing store Gaaf does not think turnover is that important on Friday. "January and February are always quiet months anyway," he said. "It's about the underlying idea. I do think that the catering industry should also open. Not all catering establishments in Valkenburg are participating in this opening. A few do not let guests in, but stick to takeaways."
At around 10:00 a.m., the city center still looked deserted. Customers had not yet found their way to the open businesses. There are, however, a few camera crews around making a report.
Mayor Daan Prevoo of Valkenburg allowed the businesses to open. According to him, this is a demonstration, and that is a fundamental right.
Reporting by ANP