Last updated 1 month ago by Michael Darmanin
Cafés radiating conviviality, warmth, a sense of belonging; where we flock for both companionship and solitude. The soul of continental Europe is perhaps ideally captured in these set ups, especially when the tables stray out beyond the premises on to the pavement. And a Dutch summer, typically, is never complete without that laid back sip, that lazy stetch of the legs, that pretty waitress emerging out of the doors to ask whether you need anything else, while the bikes speed past and the distant clang announces the turning tram.
It was of course tragic when the Corona-curse played havoc with this idyllic picture of summer. Terrace cafés were not considered totally safe. Besides, the 1.5 metre stipulation meant a striking reduction in the number of patrons. Many of the Dutch braved the circumstances to indulge in this favourite routine, but understandably many did stay away.
The municipality of Utrecht stepped in. To ensure that the catering business could comply to the 1.5 metre distance and still carry reasonable business, a scheme to temporarily widen the terraces was introduced earlier this year. The scheme was to be valid till 1 November.
And then there broke the second wave of the virus. The additional measures and regulations meant that the catering industry had to close their doors again, and run solely on takeaways. Which further meant much of the stipulated period till 1 November remained unused. Bad news for the horeca industry and their clients.
Extending the period
However, the municipality of Utrecht has stepped in again. The period for permitted widening of the terraces will be extended.
Basing their decision on an online survey involving 4,200 Utrecht residents, the municipality has decided to extend the scheme by six months.
This means that from the moment the establishments are allowed to open their doors again, they can extend their terraces until 1 April 2021.
It is indeed heartening to note that 83 percent of the participants of the online survey agreed to the suggestion of increasing the period for another six months.
Of course, this has to wait till the national measures are relaxed and the hotels, restaurants and the catering establishments are allowed to reopen. But once they do, the establishments can take advantage of the scheme till 1 April.
There is a caveat. The so-called island and satellite terraces—the terraces that do not connect directly to a restaurant or an existing terrace—will, however, have to close at 10pm.
It is difficult to say whether this decision will allow normalcy to triumph over the virus which has already disrupted life as we know it. But it definitely comes as a relief for the industry.