Bar violations in Holland are problem as Covid rate skyrockets

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Students applaud on the terrace of a café in Amsterdam on June 25, 2021 when the Netherlands eased restrictions on Covid-19.

PAUL BERGEN | AFP | Getty Images

Non-compliance with the rules in cafes and bars in the Netherlands is a persistent problem facing the hospitality industry, the country’s prime minister said as the country battles an increase in Covid infections. 19.

Speaking on Monday, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte implored the industry to force customers to obey social distancing rules and remain seated in their assigned seats, adding that this was essential given the high number of infections .

“Regarding the hospitality industry, we would like to point out that it is going well in many places, but in too many places it is not and it is extremely important,” said Rutte during a brief press conference Monday afternoon.

Rutte said police cannot monitor tens of thousands of bars, cafes and restaurants in the Netherlands to make sure they follow social distancing and customer seating rules, “so we really have to do it together. “, did he declare. “With the current infection numbers, we don’t want to have to take any further action,” he added.

Not enough social distancing

Rutte’s comments come as the Netherlands scrambles to contain an increase in Covid infections, mainly among young people. In a wave of optimism about its vaccination program, the Dutch government announced in late June that most restrictions would be lifted, with the exception of the 1.5-meter social distancing rule, and that nightclubs would be allowed to reopen.

Cases quickly started to skyrocket, however, multiplying by eight in just one week to reach around 10,000 cases on July 10, prompting the government to turn around and Rutte to apologize for lifting the restrictions. too early.

The government acknowledged that “the rate of coronavirus infection in the Netherlands has increased much faster than expected since the company almost fully reopened on June 26”. “Most of the infections have been in nightlife venues and parties with a large number of people,” he said, as he forced nightclubs to close again on July 10.

While bars, restaurants and cafes have been allowed to remain open and can operate at 100% capacity, strict rules are in place.

People should be allocated seats and kept a distance of 1.5 meters if seated indoors, unless hygiene screens are placed between the tables. For the foreign service, social distancing is not necessary. Entertainment, including live shows and television screens, is not allowed and loud music cannot be played, according to government rules. Sites must close at midnight.

Coen Berends, spokesperson for the Netherlands National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, told CNBC on Tuesday that it was “impossible to calculate the effect of this” violation of the rules “” in bars, cafes and restaurants.

“In general, we model the effects of the applied rules and can also model the effect of the absence of rules. These models predict the effect of a set of measures, but cannot discriminate between different rules or the lack of rules. compliance with a specific rule. In general, our Outbreak Management team advises on rules on social distancing and on allocated seating in bars and restaurants to decrease the spread of the virus. So, disobeying these rules could certainly have a negative impact. Especially with the now dominant Delta variant of the virus, ”he said.

“We don’t know the extent of that effect though. It certainly won’t have the massive effect that opening clubs and hosting big events had a few weeks ago. We are now seeing a stabilization of the number of positive tests. seems that the latest measures taken by our government have been crowned with success. [the] number of hospitalizations, ”noted Berends.

High level infections

The Netherlands is certainly still in a difficult position when it comes to Covid infections, however, falling just below the UK in terms of high infection rate in Europe but further behind when it comes to vaccinations. In the UK 68.5% of adults are fully vaccinated, in the Netherlands it’s just over 50%, according to the latest data available.

On Monday, Jaap van Dissel, chairman of the government epidemic management team and director of the Center for Infectious Disease Control, warned that over the past seven calendar days (measured from July 9 to 15), the number of reports of Covid-positive individuals increased 298% from the previous seven days.

“Since the easing of measures on June 26, there has been a sharp increase in the number of infections among 18-29 year olds,” van Dissel said in an open letter to the country’s director general of public health. He said it was too early to say what impact tightening measures would have.

On Monday, Health Minister Hugo de Jonge expressed hope that cases will stabilize and start to decline. Speaking alongside Rutte on Monday, De Jonge said that “over the past week … the number of positive test results has leveled off and that means growth is not continuing. I think it is. is positive “.

“At the same time, we have to say: the number of positive test results at this level, of around 10,000 per day over the past week, is of course too high and of course that needs to be reduced.”

He said the country must work hard to reduce the number of infections, echoing Rutte’s call for the 1.5-meter social distancing rule to also be observed “in the hospitality industry, on the streets. and also at home when we have guests… Us Right now, we really need that 1.5 meter space to make sure we keep this epidemic under control. ”


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