Groningen pub beats smoking ban
One pub in Groningen has found a way around the smoking ban that was imposed in the Netherlands last July. Health minister Ab Klink said on Thursday he is unable to take action against cafe De Balk and its ingenious smoking area.
The local pub in Groningen has moved its bar and serving staff to a small storeroom, designating what was its main bar area as the smoking zone.
Following other countries in Europe that had banned smoking in bars and restaurants, last summer the government prohibited smoking in such establishment, citing the protection of employees from the dangers of passive smoking as one of the main motives. Cafes are allowed to create a sealed of smoking area, as long it is seperated from the bar, and staff works in a smoke free area.
Cafe De Balk has taken the anti-smoking law literally, seperating the staff from the smokers rather than the other way around. Klink said there is nothing in the law to prevent this.
There is one small catch: regulations specify that areas where drinks are served have to be larger than 35 square metres. Klink has now said that De Balk's smoking area can be counted towards that figure.
The smoking ban has met with fierce resistance in the Netherlands and many cafes have allowed their customers to light up, risking fines that start at 300 euros and can run up to 2,400.