Ventilation in Dutch bars falls far below the WHO norm: NRC


The Dutch rules surrounding ventilation in bars and restaurants are well below the norm recommended by the World Health Organisation, the NRC reported on Thursday.

new law on the sale of alcohol which came into force on July 1 and which is meant to curb alcohol abuse, particularly among the young, also lowered the ventilation norm for bars and restaurants.

Instead of a complete change of air every ten minutes, the new law stipulates an hourly air change for existing premises, in accordance with the Bouwbesluit, a health and safety guideline which is not aimed at reducing infections but at limiting smells, experts told the paper.

They said the outgoing cabinet has ‘acted irresponsibly’ by lowering the norm at a time when bars have been an important source of coronavirus infections.

Health institute RIVM was not asked for advice, the paper found. A spokesman called the new ventilation norm ‘minimal’.

The government’s Outbreak Management Team has advised stricter ventilation norms although it is not known which levels of ventilation are necessary to prevent infection in closed spaces. As yet it is unclear if the government will follow the OMT recommendation.

Caretaker prime minister Mark Rutte admitted earlier this month that the importance of good ventilation has not been ‘communicated well’ but this only referred to people’s homes, which he said should be ventilated every 15 minutes.

Thank you for donating to

We could not provide the Dutch News service, and keep it free of charge, without the generous support of our readers. Your donations allow us to report on issues you tell us matter, and provide you with a summary of the most important Dutch news each day.

Make a donation