Cafes are expanding their terraces everywhere. Photo: DutchNews.nl
Cafe and bar closing times are likely to be brought forward to 1am in six of the 25 Dutch safety board regions including Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, Utrecht, Leiden and Haarlem, sources have told broadcaster RTL Nieuws.
Prime minister Mark Rutte and health minister Hugo de Jonge are due to hold a press conference on Friday evening announcing the plans which they hope will reduce the spread of coronavirus among young adults.
In addition, cafes, bars and party centres face a reduction in the maximum number of guests they can host from 100 to 50. Extra measures are also being finalised which will focus specifically on students and which will involve the university authorities and student associations, RTL said.
A further 1,753 positive coronavirus tests were registered with the public health board RIVM in the 24 hours to Thursday morning, and people in their 20s again accounted for the bulk of the new cases.
‘There is no single solution to reduce the number of infections,’ De Jonge said earlier this week. ‘We want to hit the virus hard, but keep the impact on society and the economy to a minimum.’
Hospitality lobby group Horeca Nederland has described the plan as ‘out of all proportion’.
‘The problem will simply move elsewhere,’ director Dirk Beljaarts told NOS radio. ‘Police and street wardens will face a major problem as soon as everyone goes indoors. It is naive to think everyone will settle down and read a book.’
Illegal parties and parties at home are the main source of infections according to the public health institute RIVM, Beljaarts said. ‘The RIVM figures show that last week, 113 people were known to have picked up coronavirus in a cafe or bar. If you compared that to the 15 million bar visits a week, then they are safe places to be,’ he told NOS.
On Thurday night, police closed down an illegal outdoor party organised by a group of Leiden students in a city park.
Asked about the new measures on Thursday night, at the end of a two-day debate on the 2021 budget, Rutte said that the plans were still being discussed with the safety boards.
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