Hospitality industry about new measures: ‘Government only targets us’

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The cabinet is tightening up measures to get the corona virus under control, Prime Minister Rutte announced yesterday evening. Reservations in the catering industry are again mandatory and staff must again ask guests if they are healthy. Furthermore, the catering industry must from now on ask guests for their contact details. However, this information is not mandatory for reasons of privacy.

Do you have to give your name and telephone number when ordering an ice cream? It is still unclear whether the measure is intended for all catering establishments. “We await further information from the government,” said Koninklijke Horeca Nederland (KHN) in a press statement. The industry association speaks of ‘disappointing measures’.

“Rutte indicated during the press conference that we should all take our responsibility. The effect is greatest if we do this with all sectors. That is why KHN thinks it is special that the emphasis is once again on the catering industry,” said KHN.

‘Spontaneity disappears’

“The spontaneous disappears”, says restaurant owner Johan de Vos of café Boerke Verschuren in Breda and also chairman of KHN Breda. “We had to work with reservations and a health check for a month after the re-opening of the catering industry in June. I was glad that it was no longer necessary from 1 July.”

If you have to make a reservation first, you don’t want to have a beer in the local cafe after work, he thinks. “You can make a reservation at the door, but it is still something that stops people. And then we would also have to ask people what their name and number is? That is a lot of extra work. And jokes give you another name and a non-existing number. What are you doing as a government?

5000 people

On a large square full of terraces, there are a thousand chairs, De Vos calculates. “People sit down for a drink for about an hour. So you have several rounds a day. For example, it concerns 5000 people, whose details you have to ask. I wish you a pleasant match. You really need extra staff. This will cost the catering industry money. ”

If a mayor wants it, he may from now on limit the opening hours of the catering industry in his area, Rutte announced. The door must then be locked at midnight. De Vos: “That’s not so bad for us, but there is also night catering that earns a sandwich between 11 pm and 4 am. How did the government get these times, the virus doesn’t have a clock either, does it?”

RIVM figures

The horeca manager is especially concerned that only his sector is being tackled. “I have looked at those RIVM figures. There is only a very small part of catering related,” he says. “Most people are infected at home, in a store or at work. Why don’t you have to register names and numbers as a supermarket and we do? You can’t tackle the catering industry alone.”

Between 4 May and 4 August, only 90 people (1.1 percent) contracted the corona virus in the hospitality industry, according to the RIVM. In comparison, 3,451 people were infected at home, 1192 in other family members, 1699 in a nursing home and 1391 at work.

There are two caveats to these figures. Multiple locations may be reported per patient, often it is not entirely clear where someone contracted the virus. And people have only been specifically asked whether they may be infected in the hospitality industry since 1 July.

Supermarkets versus catering

“The government focuses all its attention on the catering industry. While most people get infected when they visit each other, have a barbecue together or go to the supermarket”, says restaurant owner Haroun Hijman of café Weij in Roosendaal.

The bar owner opened this café in June together with another catering entrepreneur. The real Heijman café was too small to be able to open profitably at a distance of 1.5 meters. At Weij, a temporary outdoor café, hundreds of people can go to the long picnic tables every day.

Hijman: “No one is registered at a supermarket and no one cleans the carts there anymore. And no one counts how many people are inside. But the government is keen on the catering industry. I think that’s a pity.”

Unlike De Vos, Hijman has no qualms about asking his guests for their name and telephone number. “It’s not that complicated. We already had someone at the reception anyway. If someone wants to give it voluntarily, we will write it down in a folder. If they don’t want to give it for privacy, then not. I’m not going to refuse them. That is not necessary.”

Closed for two weeks

The café owner does have problems with a café having to close for two weeks if it turns out that an infected patient has been there. This may have ignited the employees, who in turn light guests, the government argues.

“You do not immediately get symptoms, so before someone notices that they are ill and has themselves tested, you are 1.5 weeks further. And then you have to close for another two weeks. I find that strange,” says Hijman. “If your employees have not become ill in those 1.5 weeks, there is nothing wrong.”

No more profit

Richard den Hartog of café ‘t College in Utrecht is afraid that catering establishments will fall due to the registration rules. “You just have to hire an extra staff member for it. One catering business is not the same as another. At a restaurant where people pay hundreds of euros and where people stay for hours, it is not such a problem”, he expects.

Den Hartog’s case must also rely on passers-by. “Someone comes for a cup of coffee worth 2.20 euros. An employee takes so long with that administration, then the profit you make on that drink is gone,” he calculates.

‘Government tunnel vision’

Den Hartog would ‘like to cooperate in fighting the corona virus’, he says. “But convince me that this measure has an effect. Besides, you can travel to Spain and then visit a garden center and hardware store. You don’t have to leave any details there. And we do.”

The catering man accuses the government of having a tunnel vision, focusing only on the catering industry. “Why only the catering industry? And what about privacy? We shouldn’t keep that information at all,” he concludes. He hopes the KHN will file a lawsuit about that.

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