Trial reopening of cafés in Utrecht goes ahead in scaled down form

The experiment by the municipality of Utrecht to study how well customers in a café comply with social restrictions will continue. The trial days, however, will take place on a smaller scale than first anticipated, RTV Utrecht reports.

Researchers want to use the trial day in the hospitality sector to study how well both staff and guests stick to social restrictions. The scientists will not only look at aspects such as how many interactions there are amongst visitors and how long guests chat with one another, but also if the room can be kept well ventilated throughout.

At the beginning of March, Utrecht first announced they will be holding a number of trial days at cafés, bars and restaurants. The municipality was enthusiastic given that the hospitality sector is in dire need of a solution to reopen safely. “We see that for now, given that the crisis is taking longer and is more complex than expected, a new approach will be required”, Mayor Sharon Dijksma wrote in a letter to the council.

The government is trying to gain insight as to how social events can be held safely. The experiment received a green light from State Secretary of Economic Affairs, Mona Keijzer. An exact date has not yet been set. A schedule will be drawn up in April that takes into account the number of ongoing infections. The trial days will be coordinated by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy in collaboration with the security regions, municipalities, the Hospitality Alliance, the Royal Dutch Hospitality Union and the independent research center, TNO.

Other experiments to test how visitors stick to social restrictions have already taken place in Utrecht. The Beatrix Theater was used to test a business conference and a performance by Guido Weijers. In Biddinghuizen, a trial festival has also been held.