Fully open cafes on 1 June, says Brussels Minister-President

Fully open cafes on 1 June, says Brussels Minister-President
Jules Johnston/ The Brussels Times

Brussels Minister-President Rudi Vervoort will call on Belgium's consultative committee to reopen cafés and restaurants from 1 June, providing certain conditions are met. 

Speaking to RTBF on Monday, Vervoort set out his criteria for the hospitality industry to return to serving people indoors by the start of June. The criteria are: 

  • The number of beds occupied in intensive care will have to decrease to about 500 (on 9 May, 700 beds were occupied),
  • The vaccination rate in Belgium must be as high as possible.

This news could be seen as further help for the hospitality sector, which saw only half as many people sitting on a terrace as on a normal weekend day in May, according to stats from the vice president of Horeca Brussels Frédérick Dasoghe. This, Dasoghe told Bruzz, was due to current terrace rules which limit tables to a maximum of 4 people per table. 

The Freedom Plan

This proposal is in line with the so-called "freedom plan" presented by the Flemish government on Sunday.

According to the proposal, Flanders wants Belgium to follow a specific timeline, and would also call for the full hospitality re-opening on the condition that the number of occupied beds nationwide is lower than 500.

The wider timeline would, in turn, see mass outdoor events allowed with up to 5,000 by July, with an end to all or most of the anti-Covid restrictions by October.

Experts have been divided on the idea, with infectious diseases expert and chairwoman of the GEMS advisory council, Erika Vlieghe calling it “completely at odds with what we (GEMS experts) had proposed."

This plan - as with Vervoort's - remains a proposal at this time and will go up for discussion at the next consultative committee meeting at 9:00 AM on Tuesday. The agenda for this meeting is yet to be formally announced, but clarification on relaxations for the culture and event sector and a "broader Summer plan" is expected to be discussed.

A press conference is expected to follow.

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Flagey was "understandable" 

Vervoort also took the opportunity to comment on the crowds seen at Place Flagey over the weekend, warning that while he understands people got excited, such situations were "not acceptable in the long run".

"I don't regret lifting the curfew. I think we have to trust the population," he said. He called the gathering "a champagne cork popping", "to celebrate the end of the curfew".

"I also understand that all those who work on the front lines feel insulted after what they go through on a daily basis".

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