For a party that prides itself on its support for deregulation and cutting red tape, those free-market Liberals in the VVD have some awfully strange ideas. Not least today’s revelations that health minister, Hans Hoogervorst, wants to tighten up the current rules on alcohol.

The Telegraaf reports that he wants to stop newsagents, pharmacies and video rental stores from selling alcohol. That seems eminently sensible. Anything to stop the Netherlands’ teens from further addling their brains, the better.
He also wants to stop bar staff from enjoying a drink with customers, which seems rather odd.
But where Hoogervorst really goes off the rails is his plans to stop the late Saturday afternoon carousing at football, hockey, golf and tennis clubs across the land.
Sports clubs are competing unfairly with ordinary cafés and bars, the minister says. It must be stopped. So he now plans to allow club members to have a beer whenever they like – but not their guests. Non-members are to be restricted to bar time of one hour before and one hour after the match.
Clearly, Hoogervorst doesn’t spend any time at all in sports clubs or he’d realise this is not only a very stupid idea – but it will be unpopular and impossible to control. The health minister has definitely scored an own goal.

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