Travel and Tourism

Dutch close schools, sex clubs, cannabis cafes over COVID-19

Agence France-Presse
Dutch close schools, sex clubs, cannabis cafes over COVID-19
People queue up in front of a coffee shop at around six in the evening in The Hague on March 15. The Dutch government has decided that all catering establishments will be closed for three weeks to limit the spread of the corona virus.
ANP/AFP/Phil Nijhuis

NETHERLANDS — The Dutch government on Sunday ordered the closing of all schools, bars, restaurants, sex clubs and cannabis cafes in a bid to fight the spread of the new coronavirus.

Queues quickly built up at "coffee shops" where cannabis is sold after the announcement, which follows pressure on the government to follow the lead of other European countries.

"From tomorrow, March 16 until April 6, the coming three weeks, schools and day care centres will be closed except for those children whose parents are in vital jobs," Education Minister Arie Slob said.

"All restaurants and bars are closing from 6pm (1700 GMT) today as well as sports clubs, saunas, sex clubs and coffee shops (cannabis cafes)," added Health Minister Bruno Bruins, speaking at a press conference.

Many schools have taken measures to put in place distance education via internet streaming, the NOS public broadcaster said. 

The announcement comes as the official death toll from the COVID-19 disease climbed to 20 with 1,135 infections in the Netherlands, and political pressure built on Dutch authorities to follow the same route as neighbouring Belgium.

Bruins said that the measure was partly taken as a result of what he referred to as Belgian "cafe tourism".

Dutch news reports said Sunday that bars and restaurants -- particularly those close to the southern border -- were overwhelmed by Belgian visitors.

All schools and restaurants have been closed in the Netherlands' southern neighbour since Thursday.

Leopold Lippens, mayor of the Belgian town of Knokke, close to the border called on Belgians to remain home and not travel to the Netherlands, the tabloid De Telegraaf reported.

"If you visit... the Netherlands you stand a chance of bringing the virus back to Belgium," he told the paper.

"This way we'll never get it under control."




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