Over 44,500 sign petition to relax Covid restrictions in bars, restaurants
Over 44,500 people have signed a petition launched by Dutch hospitality association KHN calling on the Cabinet to immediately relax coronavirus restrictions imposed on the catering sector. The petition was first published on Friday, when Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Health Minister Ernst Kuipers released a portion of the lockdown rules, but kept the strict closure of bars, cafes, and restaurants in place. Another press conference is planned for January 25, when the public will be updated about any policy changes.
KHN argued that the restrictions against the hospitality sector should be "relaxed as soon as possible, in steps if necessary." It said that the Omicron variant of the coronavirus is "far less dangerous," and said the booster campaign is progressing well. The organization also claimed that few infections take place in hospitality businesses, and said it was unfair to keep their sector and the cultural sector shut down with no prospect of relief.
In doing so, KHN said that politicians broke their promise to relax rules among all sectors. Rutte did say that the hospitality and cultural businesses would get priority if more restrictions are relaxed later in January, but that is not good enough, KHN said.
"Hospitality entrepreneurs are angry and do not understand" why they were left out of the Cabinet's plans last weekend, KHN said in a statement. "The persistent uncertainty and the lack of perspective causes confusion, frustration and psychological pressure, also among their employees."
The organization wants the Cabinet to allow hospitality businesses to close their doors to new customers at 10 p.m. nightly, but allow those inside to continue to order food and beverages. This is more logical than closing everything up at 5 p.m., like other sectors are required to do, as the businesses tend to earn more at night than during the day.
KHN will close the petition on January 25, and present it to members of the Tweede Kamer before they debate coronavirus policy issues the following day.