Cafes and bars open in defiance of shutdown orders

The cafes in Groningen were open. Photo: Remco de Waal ANP

Saturday’s protests by dozens of bar and cafe owners, who opened in defiance of government shutdown orders, went off without a hitch

Dirk Beljaarts, director of hotel industry lobby group KHN, told TV talk show Nieuwsuur that there will be “further protests in the coming days”.

Beljaarts described public support for Saturday’s protests as “heartwarming”, adding that while the opening of cafes was “so deadly,” mayors reportedly acted to shut them down.

On Friday, the government said shops, universities and fitness centers could reopen, but bars, cafes and the cultural sector must remain closed due to the spike in coronavirus cases.

On Saturday, however, cafes and restaurants across the country opened for a while in protest, in several places with the tacit approval of local authorities.

In Valkenburg and Venlo in Limburg, cafes opened and city officials did not intervene, local broadcaster 1Limburg reported.

Hylke van der Werf, of Café Thús in Drachten, told Omrop Fryslan he only got the keys to his premises two years ago. “We’ve been closed more than we’ve been open,” he said. “We are now opening up a bit. We don’t want to ask for financial aid, we want to earn it ourselves.


In Utrecht, cafe owner Gijs Werschkull said he was opening his cafes for the day as the area had been hit extremely hard by the closures. “I hope the mayor sees this as a protest,” he told RTV Utrecht. “We’ve had a lot of support from our customers.”

Mayor Sharon Dijksma reportedly declined her invitation to lunch, but said she would pressure the government to reconsider its decision and be generous in its compensation to the sector.

Utrecht council wardens issued four verbal and two written warnings to landlords who opened their cafes and bars despite orders to close.

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Richard Dement

The author Richard Dement