Delhaize agrees to early Friday closures amid alcohol sales ban

Delhaize agrees to early Friday closures amid alcohol sales ban
Illustration picture shows alcohol drinks aisle in supermarket. Credit: Pixabay

A major food retailer in Belgium will be closing shop earlier on Fridays to better comply with a month-long evening ban on the sale of alcohol imposed as part of measures to halt rising Covid-19 cases in the country.

Delhaize will close its 128 supermarkets in the country at 8:00 PM rather than at 9:00 PM from this Friday, the Belgian retailer confirmed, and for a period of at least three weeks.

The early closure will not concern Delhaize franchises such as Shop&Go, AD Delhaize or Proxy Delhaize, which are independently owned and managed.

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The decision by the supermarket chains follows a countrywide ban on selling alcohol after 8:00 PM, which came into force on Monday amid a new tightening of coronavirus rules by the federal government.

The alcohol sale ban has prompted calls from retail unions for more supermarkets to close shop earlier on Fridays, arguing that the move would protect shop employees from tense or hostile confrontations with clients.

"We fear that the task of enforcing will fall on the last link in the chain: meaning cashiers or restocking employees, who are already under pressure," Delphine Latawiec of the CNE trade union, told Le Soir.

"Clearly, there is not enough staff in shops to ensure policing (sic)," she added, noting that employees ran a real risk of being faced with hostilities or aggressions when trying to enforce the ban.

The unions have issued a wider call to other major supermarkets in Belgium to either shut down business earlier or to come up with measures to better protect frontline personnel.

It is unclear at this point whether other major food retailers in the country, such as Carrefour, Colruyt, Lidl or Aldi, will also move in that direction.

Gabriela Galindo

The Brussels Times

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