The first night of bars and cafes being made to close at 11:00 PM did not lead to any notable incidents, the Brussels-Capitale-Ixelles police said Tuesday.
The new rules, which went into effect on Monday, decree that cafés and bars that only serve drinks now have to close two hours earlier than before. This change in rules had led to authorities fearing a rise in private parties in people's homes after 11:00 PM, a phenomenon that is difficult for the police to control.
However, the early closing time seems to have posed no problem on its first night. "We are currently working on the operational guidelines to raise awareness in the first instance, and then we will take stricter measures. But first, we are giving ourselves time to adapt to the new measures", Ilse Van de keere, spokesperson for the Brussels-Capital-Ixelles police zone explained.
As it stands, café-brasseries, where you can eat, and restaurants are still allowed to stay open until 1:00 AM.
The plan to close bars early has faced criticism from virologist and inter-federal Covid-19 spokesperson Steven Van Gucht, who says it is not enough to fight the spread of the virus
Under the new rules shops that sell food or drink must also close at 10:00 PM, as is already the case for night-shops. Eating at markets is also prohibited.
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“A closing hour: all well and good, unless, of course, one continues partying at home. And that is what will happen, I guarantee you. So you won’t achieve anything,” Van Gucht told HLN.
To Van Gucht, keeping places open with enforced social distancing rules would have been preferable as “you at least still have the opportunity to check whether the rules are being observed”.
The latest changes to Belgium’s countrywide regulations will go into effect as of 1 October. For a full explainer, click here.
The Brussels Times