Monday 27 March 2023

Amsterdam mayor cuts back on pavement cafes in busy city centre


Amsterdam bar owners are preparing to take legal action after mayor Femke Halsema said she would withdraw extra permits for pavement cafes in the busy city centre.

Cafes and bars were allowed to have bigger terraces during the coronavirus pandemic to compensate for loss of income and the 1.5 metre social distancing rules. And the mayor had said these permits would be extended until the end of October this year.

However, Halsema told the Parool newspaper at the weekend that the additional terrace permits in the red light district and Nieuwenmarkt area would be withdrawn from Friday because of the impact on locals.

‘It has become so busy on the streets that the temporary terraces are putting too much pressure on the quality of life in these areas,’ the mayor told the paper.

Café owners have reacted furiously to the plan, accusing the mayor of breaching the standards of good governance.

‘After two years of government coronavirus closures and limitations, the hospitality industry is once again the fall guy,’ Barry van den Berg of the Nieuwmarkt business association told the paper.

Affected café owners are now meeting to discuss legal action, he said.

More plans

The mayor is also looking at taking additional measures and has told local businesses she may reduce alcohol sales still further and introduce earlier closing times for cafes. The city council is also considering closing off the red light district with fences when it is extremely busy.

Tourist numbers have surged since the end of the coronavirus measures and locals say that the council has failed to tackle the problem, despite various pledges and plans over the past few years.

The hospitality sector association KHN has asked the mayor to close terraces only during peak periods, such as at the weekends.

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