Amsterdam may close Red Light District bars at 2 a.m., windows at 3 a.m. on weekends
The political leadership in Amsterdam announced on Friday that it wants the windows where sex workers are active in the city’s main Red Light District to close at 3 a.m. on weekends. The windows currently have to be closed by 6 a.m. Additionally, the city intends to close bars in the area, known locally as De Wallen, at 2 a.m. Catering establishments have to close their doors at 3 a.m. or 4 a.m. under current rules.
“During the weekend in particular, nuisance from tourists and day-trippers means that residents of the old city center find their quality of life and ability to sleep at night under too much pressure,” the coalition government said in a statement. By closing those businesses earlier, the mayor and aldermen want “to offer residents peace of mind earlier, because visitors go home or to their hotel earlier, or spread out over other locations in the city.”
The executive council of the city, consisting of the mayor and aldermen, want the new closing times to take effect in April 2023. “Research shows that the worst crowds and nuisance in De Wallen take place at the end of the evening and the beginning of the night. But visitors stay there late into the night and the atmosphere is often tense and grim due to the influence of alcohol and/or narcotics. For residents, this means that after busy days and evenings, they also have to deal with a disturbed night's sleep due to nuisance from visitors who linger on the street until late.”
If the plans move forward, the restrictions will apply in the area bound by Nieuwebrugsteeg, Sint Olofsteeg, Oudezijds Voorburgwal, Oudezijds Achterburgwal, as well as the adjacent alleys and streets north of Damstraat, Oude Doelenstraat, Oude Hoogstraat. In the coming months, members of the public, activists, and interest groups will be able to provide their input and feedback about the proposal.
Potentially closing bars and sex workers’ windows earlier is part of a package of measures the city government announced earlier this year. The city officials said this includes more security and assistance personnel on the street, one-way routes, a public alcohol consumption ban in some areas, and a ban on stores from selling alcohol on the weekends after 4 p.m.