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Brussels bars could go into full lockdown

Brussels health minister Alain Maron, © Belga

The Brussels regional government is today considering the option of putting bars and cafes into full lockdown, as in March, government ministers have warned.

Yesterday the government announced that bars would have to close at 23.00, while restaurants may continue to stay open until 01.00. The reason is the continuing increase in the number of infections of Covid-19, which is invariably followed by an increase in hospital admissions and fatalities.

That measure in itself led to confusion, as some cafes have a licence to serve food, and escape the earlier curfew, while most do not. And the difference is not clear to allow local police to enforce the rules.

Following the announcement of national measure, described by industry representatives as “a death blow,” the Brussels government will today decide if something tougher is not in order.

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Brussels health minister Alain Maron (Ecolo) today said on RTL radio that tougher measures could be on the way, since Brussels has continuously been reporting worse figures than most of the country.

While the incidence of infections (the number per 100,000 population) for the country as a whole is currently at 245.8, the figure for Schaerbeek is 511, Brussels-City is 527, Saint-Gilles 578, Saint-Josse 673 and Molenbeek 824.

However, Maron admitted there could be a perverse side-effect of a complete closure, as seen in the lockdown that started in March,
“This could lead to more private parties in homes,” he said.

We would gain nothing, so we have to weight that in the balance. But there are also the economic and psycho-social impacts. We have to find a balance. I don’t know yet what we will decide, a closure or stricter hours. We will see.”

The Brussels crisis cell will gather later today to consider the matter.

Alan Hope
The Brussels Times