Last Tuesday, the Dutch Cabinet announced that universities and universities of applied sciences will be able to start teaching practicals, administering examinations and supervising vulnerable students on campus again from 15 June. EUR, too, announced that it would gradually reopen its campus starting from the 15th. Examinations will continue to be administered online until September, but starting from 2 June, 318 study spots will be available at the University Library, in addition to the spots that can be reserved at the Tinbergen Building by students who are having difficulty focusing on their studies at home.
Since some students will be making their way back to the campus soon, several businesses on campus will reopen next week. Marc van Hooijdonk, who owns Tostiworld and has been acting as a spokesperson for the businesses that make up the food court these last few months, arrived at an agreement with the university last Friday. “Like the UL, the Food Plaza will open to the public on 2 June. Not all businesses will be reopening on that date, but Tostiworld and Has Kebab definitely will.”
Enough visitors for a decent turnover?
The business owners and the university will be discussing the exact regulations and protocols to be followed at the food court this week. Van Hooijdonk previously told us that many considerations will have to be weighed. “The Food Plaza is a pretty big place, so as far as safety is concerned, things will be fine, but the main question to be answered is: how many people will show up on campus? Not all businesses will be able to open their doors again if only a hundred people are allowed on campus. That would be a waste of time, from a financial point of view.”
Van Hooijdonk told us that the business owners’ negotiations with the university regarding a possible rent reduction for those months during which their businesses were negatively affected by the coronavirus crisis are still ongoing. “We’re trying to find the right solution together. You can’t just offer all business owners a one-size-fits-all arrangement. What’s needed is business-specific solutions, and they take a bit of time.”
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Visitors from outside the campus
For its part, the Erasmus Pavilion will be reopening on 2 June, as well, and its staff are working hard to make that happen. For instance, the place has been equipped with hand sanitiser and a walking route. “We’ve created separate entry/exit points and we’ll keep a very close eye on the number of people entering the building,” said marketing manager Amanda Wijgerse. Furthermore, staff are installing an outdoor bar, so that customers will not have to go inside to place their orders.
Wijgerse herself is not too worried about the number of visitors. “In addition to students and staff, we’d like to get people from outside the campus to come and visit us,” she explained. “We offer a good product: a beautiful outdoor seating area where people can catch some rays all day. What with our student-friendly pricing and fun music, this is a great place to while away a few hours.” The Pavilion would be able to accommodate 30 people indoors, as well as 54 people outdoors.
Spar not reopening just yet
On the other hand, the Spar supermarket will not be reopening just yet, as there will not be enough students around to make it worth its while. “As far as we’re concerned, the announcement about the campus reopening on 15 June won’t change much, since most students will still be sitting exams and attending lectures online. Furthermore, students have been told to continue to travel by public transport only when genuinely necessary, so we’re not expecting many customers on campus,” said Spar spokeswoman Kyra van Elswijk. “We’ll keep monitoring the situation, though.”
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Hairdresser Lydia resumed work two weeks ago. “One day before the press conference, ANKO (the Dutch Association of Hairdressers and Barbers – ed.) told us we were allowed to get started again,” Lydia told us. The umbrella organisation sent her its protocol less than an hour after the end of the press conference. She forwarded it to EUR straight away. “Thankfully, we were able to arrange everything quickly, and I was back to cutting people’s hair the very next Monday.”
Her customers were incredibly glad to see her again. “I was inundated with phone calls. I’ve been fully booked ever since I reopened,” she said with a smile. She now gives about seventy haircuts every week, subject to revised opening hours, and ‘obviously in full compliance with the guidelines issued by RIVM (the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment)’. She knows business will slow down again in a while, but she doesn’t mind that. “I’m just glad to be able to work again.”