Dutch Retailers Grapple With Sudden Christmas Lockdown

Dutch Retailers Grapple With Sudden Christmas Lockdown

Shopkeepers in the Netherlands on Tuesday were grappling with the effects of a new lockdown, which meant they suddenly had to close their doors in what should have been the busiest and most lucrative part of the year.

“Obviously it is a big loss, this time of year is extremely important to us”, said Robert Reuter, the owner of City Diamonds in the center of Amsterdam.

“It is a very hard decision, it is bitter for us, but I think it is necessary.”

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Monday night announced a tough second lockdown in the Netherlands, in a push to drive down the coronavirus infection rate, which has rapidly moved back to record levels in the past week.

All schools and non-essential shops in the country of 17 million will be closed for at least five weeks, along with hairdressers, beauty salons, gyms, museums, zoos and other public spaces.

National shopkeepers association InRetail warned this move could have “disastrous” effects for the shops concerned.

“The impact is enormous”, it said in a statement. “For many shops this is more than they can bear.”

Hairdresser Micaela Poma, who works at a small hair salon in the center of Amsterdam, told Reuters her shop would indeed lose a lot of money over the Christmas period, which would normally guarantee a full house for weeks.

“Christmas time is very important for us, so this will be a big miss”, the 31-year old from Bergamo, Italy, said.

Poma said she and her colleagues worked until midnight on Monday to serve the dozens of clients who rushed to get a haircut before the lockdown went into effect, and were spending much of Tuesday declining requests from others who still wanted to be served.

The number of new coronavirus infections in the Netherlands jumped by 36% in the week through Tuesday to 58,412, Dutch national health institute RIVM said, while COVID-19 related hospital admissions rose by 20%.

Infections increased among all age groups, but were most prominent between the ages of 13 to 24, the RIVM said.

By Bart Meijer and Piroschka van de Wouw, editor: Nick Zieminski.

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