The City of Brussels will extend its ban on consuming alcohol in public spaces in the city centre until at least October 2023, Belgian broadcaster RTBF reports. Currently, outside of events and drinks service on terraces, it is prohibited to drink any alcohol in the city centre, under the threat of a €350 fine.
The regulations, first imposed in February 2020, have been repeatedly expanded by the City of Brussels. First planned for a period of six months, the measure intends to limit public disorder and violent behaviour. The new extensions will be confirmed by a vote at the municipal council on 3 October.
Lawmakers believe that the ban is already having results. Reports from the Brussels-Capital-Ixelles police zone, as well as non-profit BRAVVO, confirm the effectiveness of the ban.
“Since implementing the special by-law relating to alcohol consumption, there has been a significant reduction in the amount of waste found on the ground and far fewer complaints at the level of the Public Peace Service,” the city confirmed in the publication of the new draft decree.
The homeland of beer
Brussels draws many beer-loving tourists each year who flock to the city’s many bars to sample the best of Belgium’s brewing culture. Unfortunately, this has at times led to an atmosphere of drunken chaos during the evenings as city-goers walk through the streets with alcohol in hand, disturbing the locals. This is particularly visible when groups of tourists visit en masse for events such as sports fixtures.
The ban, which has previously been extended from 6 hours to 24 hours, applies to most of the city centre’s problem areas, including La Monnaie, Rue de Flandre, and La Béguinage.
“Disturbing behaviour spreads over the whole of the day, not just at night,” says the City of Brussels. Local authorities argue that drunken individuals, especially those actively drinking in the street, cause a nuisance to the local environment.
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“Nuisances are sometimes noise pollution (intense shouting, broken glass bottles), sometimes attacks on public safety (fights with bottles, damage, theft), or sometimes harm to public cleanliness (grime, vomit, as well as the presence of rubbish such as cans, bottles or papers), as well as inappropriate behaviour towards local residents,” the City said.
Brussels authorities also stated that the measures are intended to protect drunk people themselves from violent crimes. “Intoxicated people are easy targets for ill-intentioned people who do not hesitate to take advantage of this temporary fragility to commit attacks of any kind, including theft."
While the extension on public alcohol consumption relates to the city centre, other Brussels municipalities, such as Schaerbeek, Jette, Evere, and Saint-Josse-ten-Noode also have similar regulations.