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ROBIN UTRECHT

“Stay away from our terraces” say Dutch

Dutch pavement cafés and bar terraces reopen as early as next Wednesday.  Many Flemings are looking forward to a pint outdoors soon, but here pavement cafés attached to bars and restaurants will open on 8 May at the earliest.  Is a trip north of the border ‘just what the doctor ordered’ for our mental health?

Not exactly it seems.  Non-essential leisure trips by Belgians and Belgian residents are no longer banned, but the Netherlands operates a ten-day quarantine regime.  If you produce a negative test this can be cut to five days, but only them will you be able to raise your Dutch ‘pintje’.

Cross-border workers, people studying in the Netherlands and people visiting relatives are exempt from the quarantine, but the Dutch are not eager to see Belgians invading their pavement cafés in border areas.

“All terraces from Sluis to Maastricht will be ready to welcome Dutch people starting Wednesday, but Belgians are not supposed to visit unless it’s essential” says Joris van Poppel of the Dutch broadcaster NOS.

Dutch police are at the ready to carry out checks if large numbers of vehicles with Belgian plates appear North of the border.

Annemarie Penn-te Strake is the Mayor of Maastricht: “If you want to spend time of a bar terrace you need to book a timeslot.  It’s two people tops and only between noon and 6PM.  I’m counting on solidarity from our Belgian neighbours.  Stay away.  On 8 May you can do it at your place!”

The Belgian authorities will decide on Friday whether the figures are good enough to open pavement cafés here and set the rules.

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