Dutch government eases lockdown, but not for hospitality

Jan 13, 2022, 3:09 PM | Updated: Jan 14, 2022, 10:56 am
People enjoy the reopening of bars in Valkenburg, southern Netherlands, Friday, Jan. 14, 2022, wher...

People enjoy the reopening of bars in Valkenburg, southern Netherlands, Friday, Jan. 14, 2022, where shops, bars and restaurants opened in a protest action that underscored growing anger at weeks of coronavirus lockdown measures, a day before some of the restrictions are expected to be eased. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

(AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

VALKENBURG, Netherlands (AP) — The Dutch government eased its coronavirus lockdown Friday, allowing non-essential stores, universities, sports clubs and “contact businesses” like hairdressers to reopen for the first time in nearly a month.

But while many businesses can open Saturday until 5 p.m., bars, restaurants, museums and theaters will remain shut as COVID-19 cases rise steeply.

“I understand very well that it feels completely unfair after all those long months of closure and after all that effort to open safely,” Prime Minister Mark Rutte said about anger in the hospitality industry.

The discontent led shops, bars and restaurants in a southern Dutch town to open earlier Friday in a protest action that underscored growing anger at weeks of coronavirus lockdown measures.

Locals flocked to eat and drink at outdoor tables of restaurants in the main street of Valkenburg in open defiance of a lockdown in the Netherlands. Authorities in the tourist town, which was devastated by flooding last year, didn’t take action to enforce coronavirus restrictions.

“It’s very difficult, it doesn’t feel fair at the moment. The first few lockdowns were logical, I agreed with them, but it doesn’t feel fair any more,” said Didi Corten, who opened the outdoor terrace of Brasserie America for the day.

“After the flooding, we want to open again very soon because otherwise I’m afraid a lot of businesses will not survive,” she added. “It can’t go on like this.”

More towns in the region were planning similar protest openings on Saturday.

The country has been in a tough lockdown since Dec. 18 in a move the government says is aimed at “buying time” to ease pressure on overburdened hospitals and ramp up the vaccine booster program.

While infections have shot to record numbers recently as the omicron variant became dominant, hospital and intensive care unit admissions have been falling for weeks. The country’s public health institute recorded an average of more than 31,000 new cases a day over the last week.

New Health Minister Ernst Kuipers warned that the number could rise to 80,000 per day. He advised people to wear medical face masks in busy public places and elsewhere, including at work, where it is not possible to adhere to social distancing guidelines.

Dirk Beljaarts, general director of the national hospitality industry group, said he met with new Economic Affairs Minister Micky Adriaansens to press for bars and restaurants to be allowed to reopen.

“The Cabinet can’t leave hospitality (& culture) as the only sectors out in the cold,” Beljaarts tweeted earlier Friday ahead of the announcement that those sectors would not be allowed to reopen.

The lockdown has led to frustration particularly in towns like Valkenburg that are close to the Dutch borders with Germany and Belgium that are seeing people visiting those neighboring nations to shop or dine out because they have fewer restrictions.

The booster drive was slow to get started in the Netherlands, but has gathered pace in recent weeks. Just over 86% of adults are fully vaccinated and 45% have had a booster shot.

___

Corder reported from The Hague.

___

Follow all of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - Defending men's champion Serbia's Novak Djokovic practices on Rod Laver Arena ahead of the A...
Associated Press

Djokovic leaves Australia but debate goes on in vaccine saga

Australia made its decision, but opinion remains divided worldwide on Novak Djokovic and whether he should have been allowed to compete in the Australian Open despite not being vaccinated against COVID-19. At a tennis center in Phoenix on Sunday, employee Stan Taylor said the lobby was abuzz with just one question as players arrived: “What […]
2 days ago
Associated Press

4 young manatees flown from Florida to Ohio for treatment

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — SeaWorld Orlando transferred four manatee calves to an Ohio aquarium for rehabilitation, freeing space to treat more of the threatened sea mammals that have been dying in Florida at an alarming rate. SeaWorld said DHL Express transported the manatees from its rescue and rehabilitation center to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium […]
2 days ago
FILE - Greek painter Alekos Fassianos attends a ceremony for the presentation of the medal of the A...
Associated Press

Celebrated Greek painter Alekos Fassianos dies at 86

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Alekos Fassianos, one of the most important modern Greek painters, died Sunday at his home after a long illness, the state news agency ANA reported. He was 86. Alekos Fassianos was born in Athens on Dec. 16, 1935. He studied violin at the Athens Conservatory and painting at the Athens School […]
2 days ago
President Joe Biden packs produce while volunteering at hunger relief organization Philabundance, S...
Associated Press

Bidens pack carrots, apples into boxes during food bank stop

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden packed carrots and apples into food boxes for the hungry and chatted with volunteers Sunday at a food bank as part of a day of service for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. The couple traveled about a half-hour from their Wilmington, Delaware, residence to […]
2 days ago
A model wears a creations for Justin Gall fall winter 22/23 collection, in Milan, Italy, Sunday, Ja...
Associated Press

Jeff Goldblum, Kyle MacLachlan bookend Prada menswear show

MILAN (AP) — Jeff Goldblum infused Milan Fashion Week with some levity on Sunday as he shimmied down the Prada runway in a dark overcoat that cast a dramatic silhouette. The latest menswear collection in the two-year-old collaboration between Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons as co-creative directors was at once elemental and celebratory, presenting elevated […]
2 days ago
Associated Press

For ‘ice wine’ vintners, frigid temps are reason to rejoice

OVID, N.Y. (AP) — While the vast majority of New Yorkers are hunkering down to ride out frigid temperatures and snow blasts from the latest winter storm, others are seizing on the opportunity to … pick grapes? One Finger Lakes-area winemaker jokingly calls it “insanity,” but temperatures between 12 and 18 degrees are the ideal […]
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]
...

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]
...

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
...
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
...

Delayed-Onset PTSD: Signs and Symptoms

Lakeside-Milam Recovery Centers SPONSORED — You’re probably familiar with post-traumatic stress disorder. Often abbreviated as PTSD, this condition is diagnosed when a person experiences a set of symptoms for at least a month after a traumatic event. However, for some people, these issues take longer to develop. This results in a diagnosis of delayed-onset PTSD […]
...

Medicare open enrollment ends Dec. 7. Free unbiased help is here!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]
Dutch government eases lockdown, but not for hospitality