Amsterdam can force earlier closing times on Red Light District bars, sex workers: court
Amsterdam can force Red Light District catering entrepreneurs, sex workers, and window brothels to close earlier at night, the preliminary relief judge ruled in a case filed by the entrepreneurs in the area. The court ruled that the municipality’s interests outweigh those of the entrepreneurs in this case, AT5 reports.
Since the start of April, sex worker windows in the Red Light District have had to close three hours earlier on weekends, at 3:00 a.m. instead of 6:00 a.m. Bars and other catering establishments must close at 2:00 a.m. and stop taking in new customers at 1:00 a.m. Most bars and cafes in the district used to be open until 3:00 a.m.
The entrepreneurs and sex workers fought the measure in court, arguing that earlier closing times would mean massive revenue losses to fix a problem the municipality caused itself. “Catering and prostitution are connected to the Red Light District and have a great attraction for visitors. The question is what remains of the big city when the municipality is allowed to implement this policy: will Amsterdam become a provincial city?” the entrepreneurs’ lawyer argued. They pointed out that the municipality has brought the crowds and associated nuisance on itself with years of campaigns to attract more tourists to the city.
The municipality argued that the campaigns were never aimed at attracting tourists to the Red Light District. But the sex workers in the Red Light District have become a tourist attraction, and it is mainly gawkers who cause problems in the area, the city’s lawyer argued. Adjusting the opening hours would reduce said problems in the Red Light District and give locals back their night’s rest.
The court ruled that the entrepreneurs did not sufficiently show that earlier closing times would cause acute financial problems. The judge also concluded that the interests of a safe and liveable Red Light District outweigh the entrepreneurs' interests. According to the judge, reports on the situation in the Red Light District show that “This area is deteriorating and is no longer pleasant and safe to live in.” Therefore, the court said it is justified for the municipality to intervene.
The entrepreneurs will appeal against the ruling.