As Belgian bars, cafes and restaurants served their last customers on Sunday ahead of a month-long shutdown, police had to step in and break up several gatherings where those attending were flouting coronavirus rules.
In Brussels, around 200 people were discovered by the Brussels-Midi police zone packed inside a hookah bar in the municipality of Anderlecht.
The police were anonymously tipped-off to the gathering, which saw those gathering move indoors after closing time and continue the night behind the bar’s closed shutters.
The gathering came more than a week after all bars in the Brussels-Capital Region were ordered to shut down completely in efforts to curb the spread of the virus in the capital.
Footage of the gathering that have since surfaced show that several people present are not wearing a face mask and that they were packed together, with no social distancing between each other.
Police evacuated the bar and filed a report against the owner of the bar for violating the closing order and said they also issued several reports to members of he public for flouting the coronavirus measures.
In Ghent, police also reported having to track down and shut down illegal gatherings on the final night out ahead of the general closedown, which came into effect on Monday.
Around 1:00 AM, police came to the Klein Turkije (Little Turkey) area of Ghent to break up a gathering of around 15 people who lingered outside a bar after closing time.
Each was searched and fined €250 while the owner of the establishment was fined €750, HLN reports.
Noise nuisance in the nearby Korenmarkt area drew police to another gathering in café Damberd, where several people were found dancing behind the establishment’s drawn-down shutters.
The closure of all bars, cafes and restaurants in the country is part of a raft of new restrictions on social life coming into effect on Monday which officials hope will help cap new coronavirus infections.
Other measures include a ban on sales of alcohol after 8:00 PM, a general closure of all markets except food markets and a drastic reduction of close social contacts.