Belgium switches to 'code orange' tonight: nightlife reopens at midnight

Belgium switches to 'code orange' tonight: nightlife reopens at midnight
Credit: Belga

As the relaxations agreed on in Belgium's 'code orange' will take effect at midnight on Thursday evening, the closing time for bars will disappear and nightclubs can reopen today.

The Consultative Committee decided that the measures of 'code orange' in the barometer will come into effect on 18 February, and the Royal Decree – published by the cabinet of Interior Affairs Minister Annelies Verlinden on Thursday – confirmed that the rules will already enter into force at midnight.

Among other things, this means that the closing time for bars and restaurants will be lifted and that nightlife can resume after midnight tonight.

However, "if the indoor air quality limit of 1500 ppm cannot be met, a distance of 1.5 metres between tables must be provided or other measures taken so that the limit can be met from the next service," Verlinden's cabinet clarified in a press release.

"When there is a lot of movement (such as dancing), and the indoor air quality target of 900 ppm CO2 cannot be met, the number of customers received inside should be limited to 70% of the maximum capacity."

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Earlier this week, the moment when the measures would enter into force caused some confusion, as Verlinden's cabinet previously said that the rules would take effect "over the course of the day on Friday" instead of immediately at midnight, meaning that nightclubs could not reopen yet, and the closing time for bars remained applicable.

Following that statement, bar owners in the Overpoort student neighbourhood in the city of Ghent threatened to remain open past their midnight closing time, in violation of the measures on Thursday night.

Before the Royal Decree was published, Ghent Mayor Mathias De Clercq already made it clear that the area would not be evacuated if the switch to code orange had not yet been ratified.

Now, however, after evaluation and consultation with the local authorities, Verlinden clarified that it was decided that the Decree will enter into force in the night of Thursday to Friday at midnight – as initially intended by the Consultative Committee.

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