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Guests flock to Dutch cafe terraces as lockdown eases

UTRECHT, Netherlands (AP) — Lisa Gerritsen and Eva Diks had been the primary visitors in six months to be served at Cafe Le Journal on The Neude sq. within the Dutch metropolis of Utrecht on Wednesday.

First in an extended line ready to be seated, they selected a desk within the solar, ordered a bottle of rose wine and glasses of water and had been planning to make a day of it.

“We’ve waited so long. We were here at 11 o’clock. Fantastic,” stated Gerritsen, a 19-year-old pupil. “We plan to stay here until 6 p.m.”

The Netherlands on Wednesday grew to become the newest European nation to start cautiously stress-free its lockdown even as an infection charges and intensive care occupancy stay stubbornly excessive.

The Dutch comply with Italy, Greece, France and different European nations in transferring to reopen society and edge away from economically crippling lockdowns within the coming weeks.

A curfew that sparked rioting when it was launched nationwide in January was lifted and consumers had been allowed to go to nonessential shops with out making an appointment first, although numbers had been restricted.

Bars and cafes had been allowed to reopen their outside terraces for the primary time in six months, however some house owners weren’t proud of the circumstances they are saying will make it close to inconceivable to flip a revenue.

The terraces are solely allowed to open between noon and 6 p.m. for a most of two socially distanced folks per desk until they’re from the identical family.

Alex Celik, proprietor of the Il Pozzo Italian restaurant on the Old Canal that runs by downtown Utrecht, lamented that he has to shut simply when Dutch clients need to sit down for a night meal.

“Midday to 6 p.m. is nothing for the hospitality industry,” he stated. “Closing at 6 p.m. people will take food and go to the park. It won’t work so well. It would have been much better if we could open until 8 o’clock.”

He confirmed a current photograph he snapped throughout lockdown of round 250 folks consuming and consuming alongside the canal the place he’s now solely allowed to settle for 50 clients.

His feedback echoed the nation’s hospitality foyer group, which has criticized the opening hours, saying visitors will go away terraces and transfer elsewhere, making it tougher to guarantee they stick to social distancing and hygiene guidelines.

The nation’s public well being institute reported Tuesday that infections edged greater during the last week to simply over 55,000 whereas hospital admissions declined very barely. More than 17,000 individuals are confirmed to have died of COVID-19 within the Netherlands.

After being the final European Union nation to start its vaccination marketing campaign, the Netherlands, a nation of about 17.4 million folks, has now administered round 5.3 million photographs.

Gerritsen stated she had blended emotions about absorbing solar and wine whereas hospital workers had been battling the COVID-19 disaster.

“It’s tough for those working in health care that they’re so busy and we’re sitting here on a terrace,” she stated. “We are allowed to do it now, but it’s really difficult.”

The reopening got here a day after the annual King’s Day vacation within the Netherlands that noticed giant crowds of revelers collect in most cities and cities, most of them ignoring social distancing tips.

“We can regulate things much better than that,” stated Eddy Schouten, proprietor of Cafe Het Neutje.

For Pamela Kuijper-Hartman and Sven Hartman, Wednesday was necessary for rather more than the reopening of terraces.

The couple bought married at Utrecht City Hall at 11 a.m. after which walked across the nook to The Neude the place they sat with a small group of visitors at socially distanced tables and loved a drink within the spring sunshine.

“Perfect timing,” Kuijper-Hartman stated.

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