SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – A majority of MPs have called on the caretaker government to look into the option of allowing cafe terraces to reopen under strict conditions.
During Wednesday’s debate on the latest coronavirus developments – including the decision to allow secondary schools to reopen and to extend the curfew – MPs urged ministers to take more steps to help the hospitality industry.
Pieter Heerma, who chairs the CDA parliamentary party, said that last weekend – when the spring sunshine hit – takeaway outlets had to cope with long queues of people ordering drinks and snacks. ‘Would it not be safer and easier to regulate if terraces can open again?’ he said.
MPs have now agreed that ministers should look at the options ahead of the next press conference on March 8. Amsterdam’s mayor Femke Halsema has also called on the government to relax the rules for cafes.
‘I would call on the cabinet to look at opening the terraces in March, so we can better regulate public spaces,’ she told the Parool newspaper. ‘Or think about outside spaces which people move through, like the zoo.
People want to see others, and the safest place to do it is outdoors.’ Prime minister Mark Rutte told MPs later in the debate that opening cafe terraces is ‘not going to happen’. It would not be sensible at this stage in the pandemic, Rutte said.
The cabinet has also agreed to increase the maximum amount which companies can claim in help for paying regular bills to €550,000 for medium and small firms, and to €600,000 for large companies.
Shopkeepers can also claim more help with paying unsold and stockpiled products which cannot be sold because of the lockdown.