Saturday 17 April 2021

Cafes open their terraces and sex workers take to streets in coronavirus protests

Packing up in Breda. Photo: Marco de Swart ANP

Several cafes and bars in Amsterdam and Breda opened their doors for a time on Tuesday afternoon, in protest at the current lockdown measures.

Cafes are currently closed, but many owners say there is little difference between sanctioning sit down outside spaces, which is banned, and queuing for takeaways – which is allowed.

Breda cafe owner Johan de Vos, who closed his cafe again at the request of the local council, told reporters that he and others had made a statement. ‘We have shown that it can be done responsibly,’ he said.

De Vos’s cafe had been smeared with tomato sauce overnight and the message that that if he opened he would ‘have blood on his hands.’ ‘It is sad that we have come to such a situation,’ De Vos said.

In Amsterdam, cafe Del Mondo on Nieuwmarkt was the only one to open, even though several had pledged they would do so, broadcaster NOS reported. That too closed after council wardens intervened.

In Friesland some cafe owners reportedly put their terrace furniture upside down as a protest. Other protests took place in Tilburg.

Justice minister Ferd Grapperhaus said last week that cafe owners who did open would face a fine, which could be as much as €4,000.

Sex workers

Meanwhile, in The Hague, a group of sex workers were planning to protest about the government’s refusal to allow them to reopen on Tuesday afternoon. Hairdressers and masseurs can start work again from March 3, but sex work remains banned

Health minister Hugo de Jonge told reporters on Tuesday that he did not expect there to be any change in the situation soon. ‘It’s very sad, but it just can’t be done,’ De Jonge said, ahead of a cabinet meeting to discuss the latest situation.

Social affairs minister Wouter Koolmees also confirmed that there will be no more financial support for sex workers either. ‘We can do very little for them,’ he said. ‘They are in a very difficult position.’

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