The municipality of Amsterdam announced this week that tougher rules regarding alcohol consumption and outdoor smoking have been proposed in parts of the city’s historic centre, in an effort to reduce the number of noise complaints in the Red Light District.
Amsterdam looking to limit disruption for local residents
Even before the coronavirus pandemic, the municipality was looking for ways to make the Red Light District a more habitable environment for local residents and has since introduced a series of measures in an attempt to reduce noise and the number of incidents reported in the area.
“Residents of the old town suffer a lot from mass tourism and alcohol and drug abuse in the streets,” the municipality explains. “The atmosphere can get grim, especially at night … Residents cannot sleep well and the neighbourhood becomes unsafe and unlivable.”
Measures already in place include a ban on street drinking, as well as the installation of so-called hosts to monitor activity in the neighbourhood, set up one-way traffic systems, and close off certain areas during periods of overcrowding. Now, however, the municipality is looking to take tougher action and has proposed a series of stricter measures which could come into effect from mid-May.
Tougher alcohol and cannabis rules in Red Light District from May
The latest action plan involves introducing a ban on smoking cannabis on the streets of the Red Light District. While this will still allow members of the public to smoke when on the premises of a Coffee Shop, the municipality says that “if the nuisance does not decrease enough,” it will also look into “[banning] smoking on terraces at coffee shops.”
One measure that is already sure to come into effect is the adjusted opening hours of bars and brothels in the Red Light District. Instead of closing at 3am or 4am on Fridays and Saturdays, bars and restaurants will be required to close their doors by 2am at the latest. Brothels, meanwhile, will be permitted to remain open until 3am instead of the current closing time of 6am.
In addition to this, bars will not be allowed to admit new customers after 1am, and the city wants to look at enforcing a 1am closing time for outdoor terraces during the summer. Finally, on top of the current rule which bans the sale of alcohol in shops and off-licences after 4pm between Thursdays and Sundays, alcoholic beverages will also have to be removed from the store or made inaccessible to customers after this cut-off time.
Implementing weed ban is “complex” says Amsterdam’s mayor
How officials will be able to enforce the new smoking ban in Amsterdam is not yet clear. In a letter to the city council, Mayor Femke Halsema acknowledged that it would be complicated: “The implementation in practice is complex and will always have to be weighed in the light of the other problems in the area at the moment … As an enforcement line, it has been agreed that violations will be addressed as much as possible.”
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