Guests flock to Dutch cafe terraces as lockdown eases

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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)

UTRECHT – 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.

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.

“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.”

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.

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.

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.