Netherlands: Historic boats owners call for government support over COVID damage

Around 175 historic boats and their crews gathered in the Dutch lake of Ijmeer east of Amsterdam on Tuesday demanding support from the government as the coronavirus crisis pushed them out of business. The fleet sounded its horns in unison at some point during the protest. «We have the largest traditional sailing fleet in the world and now all these ships are maintained by businesses because we can't do any business. We can't move tourists, we can't sail with tourists. There is not enough, yeah, there is no room for us to make any money with the ships and therefore also there is no money to maintain them, and that's a difficulty now,» said Joost Martijn, one of participants. The boat owners say the help from the Dutch government has been too small to keep their businesses going due to high costs of maintenance. «There are meetings with the government so we are trying to get some arrangements but they have a lot of stuff to do of course now, a lot of businesses who have difficulties and the difficulty with our business is that, if the business stops, the ships disappear,» added Martijn. The fleet has gathered more than 16,000 signatures in an online calling for its support.
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