On Sunday the beach pavilions in Scheveningen told The Hague government that they were going to open more facilities on Wednesday, earlier than the planned 1 June opening date set by the Dutch government. They want to rent out beach chairs and open up the toilet facilities.
And why do they want to open on Wednesday? Because Thursday is a holiday with a great weather forecast (26C or 79F). And why do they need to do so? Because the beach pavilions are bleeding money and say they won’t survive if they don’t open early (article in Dutch). They said they would all open up and if the government didn’t like it they would need to fine all 70 pavilions. Of course, fines range anywhere from 10,000 to 50,000 euros…
The answer arrived from The Hague city government later on Monday: no, you cannot open early (article in Dutch). Like other restaurants in the country, you can only be open for takeaway at the moment. The Hague government also mentioned that it wouldn’t be fair to the city centre if the beach could open their terraces early and the city centre could not. That article also mentions a point of contention that the pavilions in Scheveningen have – other beaches do have more freedom to open more of their services, even though they are under the same rules as the rest of the country. The problem is that Scheveningen falls under a different public safety region than the other beaches do, and the other region has chosen to interpret the execution of the rules differently.
Personally, I think part of the problem that The Hague is trying to avoid is the obvious overcrowding of the beach area, but also overcrowding in the public transportation system. HTM (the regional bus and tram service) isn’t required to run their full transportation schedules until 1 June, the same day that face masks will also be required within public transportation due to the expected increase of travelers. I think people are starving for a bit of sun and any good weather they can find, and if they hear that the beaches are providing more services this week they will flock to them en masse.
One thing this controversy did cause: the Dutch government reminded everyone that cafés and terraces should not open before 1 June (article in Dutch).
Lastly, there will be another press conference tonight over the expected rules coming on 1 June, and I do expect them to stipulate that terraces and restaurants cannot open before 12:00 on 1 June, to prevent what happened with hair dresses here in the Netherlands as well as other countries: a lot of hair dressers opened at midnight. Can you imagine if all of the restaurants in The Hague tried to do the same?