Dutch retailers are putting in place measures to deal with a new 'partial lockdown' implemented by the government to tackle the spread of COVID-19.
On Tuesday, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced the closure of cafés, bars and restaurants (except for takeaway service), a ban on the sale of alcohol after 8pm, and restrictions on retail opening hours as well as the number of people that can gather indoors.
The measures will be in effect for a period of four weeks, with a review of their impact after two weeks, and follow a spike in cases in recent days, with 6,844 new cases reported on 13 October.
In response to the measures, the country's largest grocer, Albert Heijn said, 'The tightened measures have consequences for our colleagues, customers and stores and raise many questions about their application.
'We are working hard on this behind the scenes so that we can contribute to government measures and at the same time guarantee a pleasant and safe shopping and working environment for employees and customers.'
Raad Nederlandse Detailhandel (RND), the Dutch Retail Trade Council, said that it was pleased that the government had confidence in the measures taken by retailers to contain the coronavirus.
It said that the trade has already drawn up a responsible shopping protocol, as well as introducing additional sector-specific safety measures.
“Specific measures have been taken for each type of store," commented Eus Peters, RND director. "We use a criterion of one customer per 10 square metes, communicate the message of 'come alone as much as possible' and 'avoid crowds', and encourage shoppers to spread shopping visits throughout the week.
"In this way, we maintain a safe shopping environment for customers and employees. We have seen in recent months that this works and we are pleased that the cabinet has given us their confidence.”
'Very Big Sacrifices'
According to Jacco Vonhof, chairman of MKB-Nederland, which represents small to medium sized businesses, such measures were "inevitable" given the increase in infections, but added that the government is asking for "very big sacrifices" from business owners.
"The cabinet must also come up with with additional support measures at the same speed," he said. "We also insist that entrepreneurs can be part of the solution under the right conditions, and that is what we must focus on. The focus must be on what is possible, otherwise it will end quickly for many companies."
© 2020 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Stephen Wynne-Jones. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine.