Who would have thought that a virus that holds the same name as a beer would cause so much trouble for our hospitality industry? Across the globe restaurants, amusement parks, campsites, and basically all other companies in the industry are facing problems because of COVID-19. A lot has been said about this virus already. But let’s face it: many students have side jobs in the hospitality sector, and therefore many are affected by it.

Meet Janneke. She is 19 years old and studies International Leisure & Events Management. She recently moved back in with her parents. She usually works at a camping restaurant, but the last time she was called in for work was at the end of February. ‘The Corona virus was not such a thing yet in the Netherlands, so I did not have to deal with many complicities then,’ Janneke says ‘A few weeks after, we got the message that the restaurant had to close its doors, even though the playground and water pool were still open.’

Sophie, a second year International Media and Entertainment Management student, is also facing problems. She has a job at the Efteling, where she works in a pancake restaurant. ‘The last day I worked was the 8th of March,’ Sophie says. ‘However, the last day the Efteling park (which includes our restaurant) was open was the 14th of March. I thought it was a really good decision, but I was quite surprised to hear that, in the beginning, even when you just occasionally sneezed you were sent home.’

First year student Laura is enrolled in International Tourism Management. She works in a restaurant in Vleuten, near Utrecht, where she also happens to live. ‘We serve food from eastern as well as the western kitchen. I mainly work as a waitress,’ Laura says. The restaurant decided they would close on Saturday, when one day later the government informed that all restaurants were forced to close.

The beauty of take-away

While some employers can’t offer any other service at the moment, most restaurants in Breda are trying to adapt to the current situation. Some of them have started take-away services, even though they normally would never do this. On Facebook, a page called ‘Smakelijk Breda’ informs everybody about this. At the website named www.steunhorecabreda.nl you can see an overview of which restaurants participates in take-away services.

Laura knows the effect of take-away services. The restaurant she works for in Vleuten also gives its customers the opportunity to eat their food at home. ‘It is busier now than during normal weekends! We have 20 tables inside our restaurant and for delivery there is an average of 25/30 per night.’ Therefore, Janneke has some advice for companies that want to help. ‘I think the biggest challenge is to regulate your incomes, so I think I would try to create a new concept linked to the needs of the people. Bring food and drinks to the elderly or help the kids with parents who still have to work at their day-care.’ Even though the restaurant is closed, the camping’s playground is still open. ‘But you can only come in with 2 people and should keep the 1.5-meter distance. It’s not always happening. I guess in a few days this should close as well.’

Coming back stronger

At the Efteling, Sophie still gets updates from her employer when something changes. ‘For instance, I know that I will still get paid when they need me for exceptional work (such as preparing for a big lockdown). I am expected to work unless I have a cold or a cough or anything.’ Lastly, Sophie just hopes the government and pharmaceutical industry will find a vaccine or better ways to test whether people have the virus or not. ‘I believe it will be hard to go back to normal, as I believe we are going to notice big economic consequences.’ She is looking forward to the summer. ‘I think the extra vitamin D will work some miracles.’

‘It’s most important to indeed flatten the curve, stay inside and stay safe. Only if everyone keeps this in mind, we will literally come back stronger and healthier,’ Leisure student Janneke says. ‘I did not expect my schoolyear to end like this, even though we are not sure about how BUas will act the upcoming weeks, I think this whole situation is super weird. Before we can have normal classes again, the government needs to change the restrictions and so on. I guess this year is home-schooling from now on, haha!’

A big thanks to Janneke van den Broek, Sophie Verweij, and Laura Griffioen for telling their stories. As I also happen to work at the Efteling, I can very much relate to everything that has been said. For now, let’s just hope everything will go back to normal as soon as possible. As at the moment, the hospitality summer season has already been ruined before it even started. I wish all the best to everyone who is facing troubles because of the Corona virus. Stay home, stay safe!