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Dutch bar owners and sex workers are protesting against the virus

ROTTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) – In a scene reminiscent of a carefree cafe before the coronavirus was blocked, Peter Bender reached one of De Ooievaar’s open tables and placed a cup of coffee and apple pie in front of one of his guests. ,

But the coffee went cold, and the pie was left uneaten in a bar in Rotterdam’s historic Delphshaven district.

The Dutch cafes and restaurants have been closed by the coronavirus since mid-October. They were part of a protest rally in which unfamiliar cafes across the country were symbolically opening their terraces amid growing opposition to blocking hard-hit businesses.

“We have been waiting for a long time, but we still do not see any prospects from the government,” said Bender. “We have a funny action. There are dolls sitting today, next week they will be real guests. We are really sick of it. ”

Entrepreneurs who agree to pay guests a breach of blocking risk a fine of 4,000 euros ($ 4,800).

Elsewhere, shops in one of the eastern villages opened briefly in the morning, and a group of sex workers staged a play in front of the parliament in the afternoon.

“We also have to pay rent like any other person who works, so why can anyone but us work?” Said Arnhem, a sex worker who introduced herself as Melissa.

The Dutch government has promised billions of euros to support the ailing business.

Finance Minister Wopke Hoekstra sympathized with the bar owners.

“I understand their frustration. “I think we all understand that very well,” he told reporters in The Hague. “It simply came to our notice then. That’s right. “

Protests are taking place not only in the Netherlands, but also in the wake of the blockade in EU countries, where 531,000 people have died from the epidemic, and governments are still trying to recover from new infections by slowly increasing vaccination rates.

More than 1,000 people gathered in the Hungarian capital, Budapest, on Sunday to demand an end to the epidemic, which has cut off tourism and hospitality for almost four months. Demonstrations to lift COVID-19 restrictions were also scattered in France and other countries.

Disappointment is also spreading in Africa.

The Kenya Association of Taverns and Amusement Restaurants joined other federations on Tuesday in protesting against a year-long night curfew in the country, saying some 160,000 Kenyans in the industry had lost their jobs.

Mike Mutamia, a spokesman for the association, said bars and restaurants ended with the brutal use of the COVID-19 blockade police, while politicians continued to hold large public gatherings where no measures were taken.

“This failure to impose a violation of the law by continuing to apply the same law to another group of people, simply because they are not as powerful or unrelated as the leaders and elected representatives, means a human rights violation. “Live legally,” Mutamia said.

The epidemic in the Netherlands has caused severe economic damage.

The country’s overnight housing են food services turnover fell by an unprecedented 33.9% in 2020 due to epidemic-blocking measures, the National Statistics Office said on Monday. In the last quarter of the year, when the blockade was tightened again after the easing of summer measures, the turnover in cafes decreased by 70.4% compared to the previous quarter.

The owners of the bars claim that they can safely reopen their terraces by using social distance: hygiene measures. Some of them have been used in recent scenes, when large crowds of people gathered in city parks enjoying the perfect hot weather, mostly ignoring the means of social exclusion. Amsterdam authorities have repeatedly restricted access to one of the city’s main parks due to overcrowding.

The country’s public health institute said on Tuesday that confirmed infections had risen by 7% in the past week, and for the second week in a row, that number had risen after weeks of falling.

Sex workers are outraged that they have been prevented from working, while other “contact professions” such as hairdressers, beauty salons and masseurs have been allowed to reopen since Wednesday, what the government called a risk-reduction strategy last week. recently:

A woman who uses the name Moira Mona says she is a master է can work away from her clients rather than a hairdresser.

“I can insult people from a distance, I have whips that are longer than scissors to cut bangs. So I will be fine, “he said.

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Corder reported from The Hague, the Netherlands. Contributed by Tom Odula in Nairobi, Kenya և Just Astin Spike in Budapest.

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