Friday 23 April 2021

Catering trade to take government to court over second wave shutdown

Photo: Brandon Hartley

A group of 30 restaurant and cafe owners are going to court to try to overturn the government’s shutdown of the hospitality sector as part of the latest Covid-19 restrictions.

All bars, cafés and restaurants are closed to sit-in customers for at least the next four weeks, though they can continue to operate as takeaways. Hotels can only serve resident guests.

Catering sector organisation Koninklijke Horeca Nederland (KHN) has said its businesses are being unfairly singled out despite being responsible for only 1.8% of infections, according to the official figures.

A group of business owners will seek an injunction on Tuesday from the district court in The Hague to overturn the measure.

Michael Meeuwissen, owner of De Posthoorn wine bar in the city and the leader of the campaign, told the Telegraaf: ‘I have seen that our customers carefully observe the social distancing rules and that they keep a keen eye on the staff. We do the same with the customers. There is no reason whatsoever to shut us down.’

The catering sector petitioned the courts over the summer to order the virus control measures to be eased faster, but were unsuccessful.

KHN chairman Robèr Willemsen said there was widespread disbelief, frustration and sorrow in the industry at the shutdown. ‘The catering industry has been hit deeply and I am very concerned about the future landscape of our sector. This shutdown will be the final blow for many business owners.

‘We submitted a plan for smarter restrictions to the cabinet that would have avoided a shutdown of the sector, but it made no difference.’

KHN has also called for the government to expand the emergency financial support package to cover 100% of lost revenue and extend repayment terms for bank loans.

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