‘No relaxations’ for hospitality sector on New Year’s Eve, says Van Quickenborne

‘No relaxations’ for hospitality sector on New Year’s Eve, says Van Quickenborne
New Year's Eve in Brussels, before the coronavirus. Credit: Belga

Even though Belgium’s coronavirus figures are gradually going in the right direction, Federal Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne is not in favour of relaxing the measures at the next Consultative Committee on 22 December.

The closing hour for the hospitality industry is currently fixed at 11:00 PM and Van Quickenborne is not a fan of ill-considered relaxations or exceptions for New Year’s Eve, he said in VRT television programme ‘De Zevende Dag’ on Sunday.

“We need stability and clarity. You say yourself that the yo-yo policy leads to distrust among the population,” he told the reporters.

“There is no use in making big promises. There is no point in throwing everything open again now. Let us keep these measures for a while,” Van Quickenborne added. “There is a new variant of which we do not yet know the effect.”

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With his statements, he goes against earlier comments made by Egbert Lachaert, the president of his own Flemish liberal Open VLD party, who said he would be in favour of abolishing the 11:00 PM closing hour for bars and restaurants by New Year.

“If celebrating at home is allowed, it would be bizarre to close everything at 11:00 PM in a professional environment,” Lachaert said.

However, like Van Quickenborne, both Prime Minister Alexander De Croo and Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke already stated that there would be no relaxations at the next Consultative Committee.

Previously, Van Quickenborne had also spoken out against a “pass society” in reference to the introduction of the Covid Safe Ticket (CST), and he now emphasised that it is only a temporary tool.

“I made those statements in May, when there was no talk of the Delta variant,” Van Quickenborne said. “But from the moment the epidemic becomes an endemic, we will abolish these things.”

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