Brussels bars and cafés will have to shut their doors before midnight from Monday as several restrictions to halt new coronavirus cases in the capital begin to come into force.
All establishment serving alcoholic drinks will have to close at 11:00 PM rather than at 1:00 AM after Brussels' regional government announced a tightening of measures at the weekend.
Any other shops, such as libraries, which have a lounge or play area or which sell food or drinks will also have to adopt the closing time imposed on night shops and close down at 10:00 PM at the latest.
- Covid-19: Brussels introduces tougher restrictions
- Coronavirus-Belgium: Over 20,000 hospitalised since March
- Coronavirus: Expert denounces lack of information on returning travellers
Eating at food markets will be banned from Monday as well and Brussels mayors will task police to more strictly enforce the ban on public gatherings of more than ten people, particularly after closing time at 11:00 PM, according to a press release.
The move to shorten establishments' opening hours comes as Brussels authorities step up the fight against the coronavirus, introducing a raft of new and stricter rules that contrast with significant nationwide relaxations announced last week.
The new measures coincide with a rise in the number of coronavirus infections, with authorities saying that hospitalisations have begun to reach levels seen near the end of the first wave in late May.
"It is important to note that the majority of infections take place within households, at work and in bars and cafés," a press release said.
In line with a decision introduced by the National Security Council last week, a generalised rule to wear a face mask in all public places will be abolished and replaced with an obligation to always carry a face mask to wear where necessary, since municipalities in Brussels could still require it in some public areas.
The Brussels Times