'Completely excessive': Belgian cinemas banned from selling snacks

'Completely excessive': Belgian cinemas banned from selling snacks
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Belgium's movie theatre owners fear severe consequences now that the latest measures against the coronavirus forbid them from offering snacks and drinks to their customers.

During the press conference after the Consultative Committee on Friday, Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke still stated the situation for the event and culture sector would be unchanged until the protocols had been revised.

However, after the publication of the Ministerial Decree, it became clear that there are consequences for cinemas, namely that the current arrangements for indoor activities will continue to apply, but that the sale of drinks and food would be banned.

In a statement, the Federation of Cinemas of Belgium (FCB) called the measure "completely excessive."

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The owners pointed out that the sale of snacks and drinks "has become vital for the survival of the cinema" and that "these government measures create economically unviable conditions with dramatic consequences."

For many film lovers, a drink and/or bite is part of the cinema experience, according to the cinema owners. Additionally, after deducting the costs, the margin on cinema tickets has become extremely small, and the income from publicity has been severely curtailed.

"As of today and without prior warning, cinema owners will be obliged to cease part of their commercial activity and to inform a significant proportion of their staff of the fact that temporary unemployment is being applied to them," said FCB.

That is why "effective and substantial financial support" is necessary or a large number of cinemas run the risk of having to close down permanently, according to the federation, resulting in redundancies throughout the sector.

Cinemas in Belgium had to close in March during the first coronavirus wave. On 1 July, they were allowed to reopen, following strict protocols.

Maïthé Chini

The Brussels Times

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