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World Guests flock to Dutch cafe terraces as lockdown eases

16:20  28 april  2021
16:20  28 april  2021 Source:   msn.com

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UTRECHT, Netherlands (AP) — Lisa Gerritsen and Eva Diks were the first guests in six months to be served at Cafe Le Journal on The Neude square in the Dutch city of Utrecht on Wednesday.

People toast as terraces reopened at midday in Utrecht, Netherlands, Wednesday, April 28, 2021. The Netherlands became the latest European country to begin cautiously relaxing its lockdown even as infection rates and intensive care occupancy remain stubbornly high. The Dutch follow Italy, Greece, France and other European nations in moving to reopen society and edge away from economically crippling lockdowns in the coming weeks.(AP Photo/Peter Dejong) © Provided by Associated Press People toast as terraces reopened at midday in Utrecht, Netherlands, Wednesday, April 28, 2021. The Netherlands became the latest European country to begin cautiously relaxing its lockdown even as infection rates and intensive care occupancy remain stubbornly high. The Dutch follow Italy, Greece, France and other European nations in moving to reopen society and edge away from economically crippling lockdowns in the coming weeks.(AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

First in a long line waiting to be seated, they chose a table in the sun, ordered a bottle of rose wine and glasses of water and were planning to make a day of it.

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“We’ve waited so long. We were here at 11 o’clock. Fantastic,” said Gerritsen, a 19-year-old student. “We plan to stay here until 6 p.m.”

Pamela Kuijper-Hartman and Sven Hartman, newlyweds, and others wait to be seated as terraces opened at midday in Utrecht, Netherlands, Wednesday, April 28, 2021. The Netherlands became the latest European country to begin cautiously relaxing its lockdown even as infection rates and intensive care occupancy remain stubbornly high. The Dutch follow Italy, Greece, France and other European nations in moving to reopen society and edge away from economically crippling lockdowns in the coming weeks.(AP Photo/Peter Dejong): Virus Outbreak Netherlands © Provided by Associated Press Virus Outbreak Netherlands

The Netherlands on Wednesday became the latest European country to begin cautiously relaxing its lockdown even as infection rates and intensive care occupancy remain stubbornly high.

The Dutch follow Italy, Greece, France and other European nations in moving to reopen society and edge away from economically crippling lockdowns in the coming weeks.

People celebrate King's Day in the center of Amsterdam, Netherlands, Tuesday, April 27, 2021. Crowds have gathered in cities across the Netherlands despite authorities urging people to stick to coronavirus social distancing regulations as the country marks King Willem-Alexander's birthday, a national holiday. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong): APTOPIX Virus Outbreak Netherlands King's Day © Provided by Associated Press APTOPIX Virus Outbreak Netherlands King's Day

A curfew that sparked rioting when it was introduced nationwide in January was lifted and shoppers were allowed to visit nonessential stores without making an appointment first, though numbers were limited.

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Bars and cafes were allowed to reopen their outdoor terraces for the first time in six months, but some owners weren't happy with the conditions they say will make it near impossible to turn a profit.

The terraces are only allowed to open between midday and 6 p.m. for a maximum of two socially distanced people per table unless they are from the same household.

Alex Celik, owner of the Il Pozzo Italian restaurant on the Old Canal that runs through downtown Utrecht, lamented that he has to close just when Dutch customers want to sit down for an evening meal.

Dutch customers eager for their first drink of coffee or something stronger at a cafe terrace have flocked to outdoor seating as the Netherlands' lockdown eased in Utrecht, Wednesday, April 28, 2021. The Netherlands became the latest European country to begin cautiously relaxing its lockdown even as infection rates and intensive care occupancy remain stubbornly high. The Dutch follow Italy, Greece, France and other European nations in moving to reopen society and edge away from economically crippling lockdowns in the coming weeks.(AP Photo/Peter Dejong) © Provided by Associated Press Dutch customers eager for their first drink of coffee or something stronger at a cafe terrace have flocked to outdoor seating as the Netherlands' lockdown eased in Utrecht, Wednesday, April 28, 2021. The Netherlands became the latest European country to begin cautiously relaxing its lockdown even as infection rates and intensive care occupancy remain stubbornly high. The Dutch follow Italy, Greece, France and other European nations in moving to reopen society and edge away from economically crippling lockdowns in the coming weeks.(AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

“Midday to 6 p.m. is nothing for the hospitality industry," he said. "Closing at 6 p.m. people will take food and go to the park. It won’t work so well. It would have been much better if we could open until 8 o’clock.”

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A guest shows his glass of beer to the photographer as Dutch customers eager for their first drink of coffee or something stronger at a cafe terrace have flocked to outdoor seating as the Netherlands' lockdown eased in Utrecht, Wednesday, April 28, 2021. The Netherlands became the latest European country to begin cautiously relaxing its lockdown even as infection rates and intensive care occupancy remain stubbornly high. The Dutch follow Italy, Greece, France and other European nations in moving to reopen society and edge away from economically crippling lockdowns in the coming weeks.(AP Photo/Peter Dejong) © Provided by Associated Press A guest shows his glass of beer to the photographer as Dutch customers eager for their first drink of coffee or something stronger at a cafe terrace have flocked to outdoor seating as the Netherlands' lockdown eased in Utrecht, Wednesday, April 28, 2021. The Netherlands became the latest European country to begin cautiously relaxing its lockdown even as infection rates and intensive care occupancy remain stubbornly high. The Dutch follow Italy, Greece, France and other European nations in moving to reopen society and edge away from economically crippling lockdowns in the coming weeks.(AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

He showed a recent photo he snapped during lockdown of around 250 people eating and drinking along the canal where he is now only allowed to accept 50 customers.

His comments echoed the country's hospitality lobby group, which has criticized the opening hours, saying guests will leave terraces and move elsewhere, making it more difficult to ensure they stick to social distancing and hygiene rules.

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Guests queue, bottom, to take their seats at spaced out terrace tables in Utrecht, Netherlands, Wednesday, April 28, 2021. The Netherlands became the latest European country to begin cautiously relaxing its lockdown even as infection rates and intensive care occupancy remain stubbornly high. The Dutch follow Italy, Greece, France and other European nations in moving to reopen society and edge away from economically crippling lockdowns in the coming weeks.(AP Photo/Peter Dejong): Virus Outbreak Netherlands © Provided by Associated Press Virus Outbreak Netherlands

The country’s public health institute reported Tuesday that infections edged higher over the last week to just over 55,000 while hospital admissions declined very slightly. More than 17,000 people are confirmed to have died of COVID-19 in the Netherlands.

Dutch customers eager for their first drink of coffee or something stronger at a cafe terrace have flocked to outdoor seating as the Netherlands' lockdown eased in Utrecht, Wednesday, April 28, 2021. The Netherlands became the latest European country to begin cautiously relaxing its lockdown even as infection rates and intensive care occupancy remain stubbornly high. The Dutch follow Italy, Greece, France and other European nations in moving to reopen society and edge away from economically crippling lockdowns in the coming weeks.(AP Photo/Peter Dejong) © Provided by Associated Press Dutch customers eager for their first drink of coffee or something stronger at a cafe terrace have flocked to outdoor seating as the Netherlands' lockdown eased in Utrecht, Wednesday, April 28, 2021. The Netherlands became the latest European country to begin cautiously relaxing its lockdown even as infection rates and intensive care occupancy remain stubbornly high. The Dutch follow Italy, Greece, France and other European nations in moving to reopen society and edge away from economically crippling lockdowns in the coming weeks.(AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

After being the last European Union nation to begin its vaccination campaign, the Netherlands, a nation of about 17.4 million people, has now administered around 5.3 million shots.

Gerritsen said she had mixed feelings about soaking up sun and wine while hospital staff were battling the COVID-19 crisis.

“It’s tough for those working in health care that they’re so busy and we’re sitting here on a terrace,” she said. “We are allowed to do it now, but it’s really difficult.”

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Dutch customers eager for their first drink of coffee or something stronger at a cafe terrace have flocked to outdoor seating as the Netherlands' lockdown eased in Utrecht, Wednesday, April 28, 2021. The Netherlands became the latest European country to begin cautiously relaxing its lockdown even as infection rates and intensive care occupancy remain stubbornly high. The Dutch follow Italy, Greece, France and other European nations in moving to reopen society and edge away from economically crippling lockdowns in the coming weeks.(AP Photo/Peter Dejong) © Provided by Associated Press Dutch customers eager for their first drink of coffee or something stronger at a cafe terrace have flocked to outdoor seating as the Netherlands' lockdown eased in Utrecht, Wednesday, April 28, 2021. The Netherlands became the latest European country to begin cautiously relaxing its lockdown even as infection rates and intensive care occupancy remain stubbornly high. The Dutch follow Italy, Greece, France and other European nations in moving to reopen society and edge away from economically crippling lockdowns in the coming weeks.(AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

The reopening came a day after the annual King's Day holiday in the Netherlands that saw large crowds of revelers gather in most towns and cities, most of them ignoring social distancing guidelines.

“We can regulate things much better than that,” said Eddy Schouten, owner of Cafe Het Neutje.

Dutch customers eager for their first drink of coffee or something stronger at a cafe terrace have flocked to outdoor seating as the Netherlands' lockdown eased in Utrecht, Wednesday, April 28, 2021. The Netherlands became the latest European country to begin cautiously relaxing its lockdown even as infection rates and intensive care occupancy remain stubbornly high. The Dutch follow Italy, Greece, France and other European nations in moving to reopen society and edge away from economically crippling lockdowns in the coming weeks. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong) © Provided by Associated Press Dutch customers eager for their first drink of coffee or something stronger at a cafe terrace have flocked to outdoor seating as the Netherlands' lockdown eased in Utrecht, Wednesday, April 28, 2021. The Netherlands became the latest European country to begin cautiously relaxing its lockdown even as infection rates and intensive care occupancy remain stubbornly high. The Dutch follow Italy, Greece, France and other European nations in moving to reopen society and edge away from economically crippling lockdowns in the coming weeks. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

For Pamela Kuijper-Hartman and Sven Hartman, Wednesday was important for much more than the reopening of terraces.

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The couple got married at Utrecht City Hall at 11 a.m. and then walked around the corner to The Neude where they sat with a small group of guests at socially distanced tables and enjoyed a drink in the spring sunshine.

A restaurant employee prepares tables for customers eager for their first drink of coffee or something stronger at a terrace as the Netherlands' lockdown eased in Utrecht, Wednesday, April 28, 2021. The Netherlands became the latest European country to begin cautiously relaxing its lockdown even as infection rates and intensive care occupancy remain stubbornly high. The Dutch follow Italy, Greece, France and other European nations in moving to reopen society and edge away from economically crippling lockdowns in the coming weeks.(AP Photo/Peter Dejong) © Provided by Associated Press A restaurant employee prepares tables for customers eager for their first drink of coffee or something stronger at a terrace as the Netherlands' lockdown eased in Utrecht, Wednesday, April 28, 2021. The Netherlands became the latest European country to begin cautiously relaxing its lockdown even as infection rates and intensive care occupancy remain stubbornly high. The Dutch follow Italy, Greece, France and other European nations in moving to reopen society and edge away from economically crippling lockdowns in the coming weeks.(AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

“Perfect timing,” Kuijper-Hartman said.

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