AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – Terraces throughout the Netherlands filled quickly on Monday as bars and restaurants were allowed to open for the first time in almost three months on a sunny public holiday.
As the number of new coronavirus infections in the country has dropped steadily in recent weeks, restaurants, bars, museums, cinemas and theatres were allowed to open their doors from 1000 GMT on Monday, as long as they follow strict social distancing rules to prevent a new rise in infections.
They are now allowed to receive a maximum of 30 customers at a time, who all have to make reservations in advance and need to be seated at tables with a minimum distance of 1.5 metres (5 ft) between them.
Customers showing symptoms of COVID-19 are supposed to be turned away, while no more than two people from different households are allowed to share a table.
No exact limit is set on the number of people allowed on outdoor terraces, as long as all customers are seated and tables are kept at the required distance.
“It feels unnatural to have these rules, but we are very happy to be open again and welcome our guests again”, Amsterdam restaurant owner Priscilla den Ouden told Reuters.
Schools, restaurants, bars, museums and other public places in the Netherlands had been closed since March 15 in an attempt to limit the coronavirus outbreak.
Secondary schools will also reopen on Tuesday, following the partial opening of elementary schools last month.
Public transport, which had been limited during the lockdown, returned to regular service on Monday with all travellers and staff required to wear face masks.
As of Monday 46,545 infections with the new coronavirus had been confirmed in the Netherlands, with 5,962 deaths.
(Reporting by Bart Meijer; Editing by Angus MacSwan)