Gov’t discussing reopening catering industry

Business

The government is talking about ways in which some catering establishments can be safely reopened, according to a letter Minister Eric Wiebes of Economic Affairs sent to parliament. When this will happen, is not yet known, NOS reports.

In the letter, Wiebes said that the government is discussing whether it is possible “to allow certain activities to take place safely, as soon as the epidemiological picture allows it again”.

He mentioned independent restaurants, or locations where there is explicitly no opportunity to drink alcohol. Restaurants will also have to do a health screening for their customers, register customers’ contact details, maintain social distancing, and be able to provide seating at a sufficient distance.

Some Dutch media reported that this could happen by mid-December, but sources in The Hague told NOS that that was unlikely. If infection numbers continue to fall, there may be a cautious easing of the measures in mid-December. But Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Health Minister Hugo de Jonge warned earlier this week that the lockdown may be in place until mid-January.

Opening restaurants, but not other catering establishments, is also complicated, because there must be a clear distinction from a “drinking place”, the broadcaster’s sources said. This distinction is not easy to make, and it also makes enforcement even more complicated.