Friday 26 February 2021

Amsterdam bans sales of alcohol at weekends in busy tourist areas

Crowds have returned to the Wallen district. Photo: Brandon Hartley

Alcohol sales are being restricted at weekends in one of Amsterdam’s busiest tourist areas as part of a package of stricter coronavirus measures in the capital.

From this weekend shops in the Wallen area, best known for its red light district, will be banned from selling alcohol from 4pm until midnight between Thursday and Sunday. Alcohol will still be available at bars and restaurants.

City mayor Femke Halsema said the rule was designed to deter large crowds from gathering in the streets and drinking now that tourists are returning to the city. But some shopkeepers said it would make it harder for trade to recover after lockdown.

‘It is extremely important that people keep their distance from each other, Amsterdammers and international tourists alike, both on the streets and in bars and restaurants,’ said Halsema. ‘A new lockdown is the last thing we want.’

Other new rules to reduce street congestion in the city include a one-way system on the Kalverstraat shopping boulevard at weekends and a ban on street performers to prevent crowds building up. All the measures will remain in place until the end of August.

Amsterdam has also launched a campaign in Dutch, English and German to urge daytrippers and short-break visitors to travel during the week, to avoid concentrations of tourists at weekends.

Some business owners in the Wallen were unhappy with the new rules. ‘You can’t keep back the crowds like this,’ Henry Lee of World Wide Supermarket on Lange Niezel told Het Parool. ‘You might as well ban tourists altogether. We’ve sold nothing for months, our sales are down by half. This ban till September 1 will make it even harder for us.’

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