Beach pavilions cannot operate this winter but can stay standing: Minister

Beach pavilion owners will not be required to dismantle their buildings at the end of the season, like every other year, Interior Minister Kajsa Ollongren said in a letter to Parliament on Monday. The high cost of tearing down the buildings and reassembling them for next year’s season was likely to place many entrepreneurs in financial ruin because of their limited ability to earn revenue this year.

“This reduces the chance that entrepreneurs will get into financial difficulties as a result of the Coronavirus measures,” she wrote. However, the approval does not mean that the businesses will be allowed to operate out of season, she said. They are usually required to close from November through February.

The beach businesses lost out on a high percentage of their annual seasonal income from March through the end of May due to Covid-19 crisis. This included weeks of extremely sunny weather, and the King’s Day, Liberation Day, Ascension Day, and Pentecost holidays.

Building up and dismantling the bistros can cost as much as 150 thousand euros every year, said Andre Triep, who represents beach business owners in Scheveningen. By late June, many of the businesses were on pace to earn just 15 percent of their normal annual revenue. When the cafes were allowed to reopen on June 1, they were still required to reduce their capacity due to 1.5-meter physical distancing rules.

Dutch catering association KHN made the appeal on behalf of the beach businesses to Minister Ollongren, infrastructure agency Rijkswaterstaat, the area water boards, and the municipalities association VNG. They all agreed to provide the exemption to the entrepreneurs for this one season only, with several safety conditions attached.

While coastal safety was believed to be safe for now, the management of coastal defenses was still of concern, the minister said. Rijkswaterstaat and the water boards want “to prevent erosion of the dunes and the dune base, damage to the flood defense and pollution of the beaches, dunes and sea as much as possible,” she stated.

Liability for storm damage and vandalism will still be the business owners’ responsibility, Ollongren said.

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