This weekend saw crowds of Dutchies flooding the shopping streets, hunting for the best bargains over the Black Friday sales period. Mayors from around the country had to force shops to close earlier when it became clear that keeping the 1.5-metre distance was impossible.
The streets we indeed crowded across the country this weekend, from Maastricht to Groningen. “I have just issued an emergency order,” the Dordrecht mayor Wouter Kolff tweeted on Saturday. “It is much too busy in the centre of Dordrecht. Don’t go there anymore!” The mayors of Amsterdam, The Hague, Eindhoven and Apeldoorn urged people to stay away from the city centre, while the mayor of Maastricht announced ‘code red’ on Sunday due to the number of people in the centre.
Het is veel te druk in de binnenstad van Dordrecht. Kom er niet meer heen! Zojuist heb ik een noodbevel uitgevaardigd. Voor alle winkels (behalve levensmiddelen) geldt dat er na 15.30u geen nieuwe klanten meer naar binnen mogen en om 16.00u moeten deze winkels gesloten zijn.
— Wouter Kolff (@WouterKolff) November 28, 2020
Request to ban Black Friday ignored by cabinet
Rotterdam mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb claims that 25 mayors of the Security Council recently urged the cabinet to ban Black Friday sales in the Netherlands, reports De Volkskrant. But according to Aboutaleb, the cabinet did not deem this necessary. “When you see that certain things could mobilize many people, it is obvious to say: maybe not so sensible,” Aboutaleb told the TV program Buitenhof.
The mayor of Roermond, a well-visited city thanks to its designer outlets, expressed similar concerns. “What worries me most is that large groups of people cannot suppress their urge to bargain at this time,” said Mayor Rianne Donders. “You may therefore wonder whether the cabinet should not have allowed Black Friday only online.”
Cabinet denies ever being asked to ban Black Friday
The Dutch cabinet claim there were never such requests to ban Black Friday in the Netherlands, reports NOS. Regardless, a spokesperson says it would have been legally difficult to implement such a ban, especially when mayors have the power to intervene already.
Hubert Bruls, chairman of the Security Council, says the situation is more complicated than Aboutaleb suggests. Bruls, who is also the mayor of Nijmegen, says there were discussions over December crowds with the cabinet. “Several options were on the table during these consultations. For example, the option to temporarily close shops was also mentioned, but this was not desired by the Safety Council.”
According to Bruls, the cabinet did take some actions to discourage Black Friday sales. “The line was to try to discourage people from seeking out the hustle and bustle in the shopping streets. The cabinet has also consulted with the retail trade about the distribution of the crowds.”
Should the Dutch cabinet have banned the American sales frenzy? Tell us your thoughts in the comments.
Feature Image: Kevin Dowling/Unsplash