Signs informing the public as to the bar’s status will be necessary but the move has been welcomed by small bar owners who claim that as they did not have the money to invest in smoking areas, plunging profits had led to closures in many cases following the introduction of the smoking ban two years ago.
However there will be no change for nightclubs, staffed bars and restaurants.
The decision by Health Minister Edith Schipperstold still needs parliamentary approval but this unlikely to be an obstacle given the new political makeup of the Dutch government.
Prior to the present, some 41 per cent of bars and nightclubs in Holland had been breaking the law according to statistics from the Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority there.
The relaxation of the smoking ban follows two different court rulings last year to the effect that small one-person catering businesses were being unfairly discriminated against by the ban. However a subsequent ruling reversed these judgements again this year. The latest U-turn should provide new impetus for some 3,000 of Holland’s 5,500 bars.