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Shops, trains, bars: What’s open this Ascension weekend?

With Ascension kicking off a long weekend for many people, the ongoing pandemic is making it even harder to keep track of what should be open, and what’s likely to be closed. 

Here’s a quick recap of what’s open and what isn’t:

Bars, Restaurants & Cafes:

Can stay open if they please. With good weather predicted and terraces having reopened less than a week ago, it’s pretty likely many will remain open, but best to check ahead of time.

Some places are advising booking; others want walk-ups, so best to check in advance. 

Under Belgium’s current rules, terraces can be open 8:00 AM to 10:00 PM, with a maximum of 4 people per table is allowed. Households consisting of more than four people may share a table.

For a recap of the current rules for being on a terrace, click here.

Supermarkets:

Best to check online if your store is open.

All Colruyt will be closed due to a public holiday on (Ascension Day).

Albert Heijn stores have live updated opening hours, so the most accurate information for stores opening can be found here.

For Carrefour, most shops will be closed Thursday, but some local stores may open and list their hours on their website.

Similarly, Delhaize says each shop has different opening hours, and some may be closed, so check online.

Shopping: 

Under current shopping rules, “fun shopping” is not allowed. 2 people can go into stores together, staying for a maximum of 30 minutes.

Stores of large chains like Ikea and Mediamarkt will also keep their doors closed on May 13. For small independent shops, it’s on a case-by-case basis: they are free to open or not on Thursday.

Due to the vast number of workers who take the data off Ascension generally means shops close down for the day. If they choose to follow the same pattern as previous years, the main shopping centres in the country will not open their doors.

City 2 shopping centre will be closed, while Docks Bruxsel website says it will be open. 

Outdoor spaces/activities:

Parks and beaches will be open. Animal parks such as the zoo, Planckendael and Pairi Daiza are open but require reservations. 

Amusement parks, recently reopened, also require reservations. 

Transport:

The Brussels public transport company STIB, the Flemish De Lijn and Belgian railway SNCB are all adapting their services for the Ascension holiday weekend ahead.

On STIB and De Lijn networks, transportation will adopt the timetable of a Sunday on Thursday, which is Ascension Day and, therefore, a public holiday.

The two companies will then “bridge” Friday, reducing their offered services to that of a school holiday.

Saturday and Sunday will follow the usual weekend schedule.

On the SNCB side, trains will run on Thursday according to the Sunday schedule. 

On Friday, the trains that run during the morning and evening rush hour will be cancelled. 

On Saturday and Sunday, however, there will be no change compared to a normal weekend.

Public transport users are invited to plan their journey via their transport company’s website or mobile application.

Mail:

Bpost will not deliver mail, parcels, newspapers or magazines on Thursday. All post offices will be closed, as well as collection points and MassPost centres.

Only the parcel vending machines will be operational, but they will not be restocked during the public holiday, the postal company said.

On Friday, the offices will remain closed. Still, the rest of the services will be accessible: the delivery of mail, parcels, newspapers and magazines will be carried out normally, the “post points” and “parcel points” will open according to their specific opening hours, the parcel vending machines will be operational, and the Bpost contact centre will also be reachable.

Banks:

The banking sector federation, Febelfin, said that banks would generally be closed throughout the extended holiday weekend, although there may be exceptions here and there.

Government services:

All municipal, regional or federal administrations will be closed this Thursday, with many also closed on Friday. 

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Lauren Walker contributed to this article