Brussels police can’t enforce closing times because they don’t know them
Share article:
Share article:

Brussels police can’t enforce closing times because they don’t know them

Credit: Belga

Brussels police officers have been left unable to enforce the early closing times – as part of the coronavirus measures – in the city because they have no way of defining what is allowed to be open, and what isn’t.

Under the new rules in force, restaurants (and resto-bars) are allowed to remain open until 1:00 AM, but bars and cafes must close at 11:00 PM. The focus of the measure, announced by Brussels’ regional government following a rapid rise in coronavirus cases, is mainly on establishments serving alcoholic drinks.

“The problem we are currently having is that we do not have a list of businesses that are officially considered cafés and businesses that are restaurants,” a spokesperson for the Brussels-Capital Ixelles police zone, Ilse Van de Keere, told Bruzz. “That is why we are monitoring the hygiene measures in particular: are customers wearing face masks when they walk around, are they not dancing, are they keeping enough distance?”

Entering into the second week of enforcement, police say they have begun writing up official reports after an initial phase of building awareness. Without any official guide to what should and should not be open, however, it is proving to be difficult to make any meaningful progress.

“For the police, it is not obvious every time a change is introduced,” Van de Keere said.

Related News:


Currently, there is no tool in place that can help officers make the distinction between a cafe and a restaurant, according to the cabinet of Minister-President of the Brussels-Capital Region, Rudi Vervoort.

“For us, that distinction is very clear, however. A business is only a restaurant if, effectively, there is a kitchen in which meals are cooked. A bar that also serves snacks is not one of them,” Vervoort’s said. A Regional Security Council will take place on 6 October, in which the police zones can communicate their issues.

During the weekend, several police zones also call in extra checks, precisely because the hospitality industry gets busier then. The Brussels-Midi police zone even deploys special Covid-19 patrols, with a minimum of two patrols per division.

However, the problem does not seem to occur to the same extent in Brussels’ other police zones, where the concentration of bars and restaurants is lower than in the Brussels Capital Ixelles zone.

In the Brussels-West area and the police zone of Schaerbeek, Evere and Saint-Josse-ten-Noode, only two or three cafés that had not respected the earlier closing time.

Additionally, even though the police zones have started issuing fines, they are also still raising awareness about the closing time, as well as about the mandatory wearing of face masks.

“We are not going to check whether everyone actually has a face mask with them. That would lead to too much of a hunt,” Van de Keere said, adding that people who break the rules repeatedly will be dealt with more severely.

“Sometimes people still make mistakes, but we do not blame them for that. Even our own officers have to regularly check whether or not a mask is compulsory in a particular street,” she added.

Jules Johnston & Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times

Latest news

Limiting private contacts ‘needed to fight autumn wave’, expert warns
The Consultative Committee announced it is introducing a handful of measures in public spaces to control the quickening spread of the coronavirus, ...
After 5 rescues in 2 days, hundreds of migrants take shelter in Italy
After five rescues in less than two days, almost 400 migrants aboard the Geo Barents search and rescue ship in the Central Mediterranean, operated by ...
Belgian wind farm closed down to save migrants floating in sea
A wind farm near Zeebrugge had to be shut down on Wednesday morning as more than 25 migrants had been adrift in its vicinity off the Belgian coast ...
Cinemas will require Covid Safe Ticket from Friday
The Covid Safe Ticket (CST) will be required to attend cinemas across Belgium from Friday, which marks the start of the autumn holidays, the ...
UN issues strong warning ahead of climate change summit in Glasgow
New and updated climate commitments fall far short of what is needed to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, leaving the world on track for a ...
Disastrous year for Belgian beekeepers
Belgian beekeepers have experienced a disastrous year, with honey production 50 to 60 percent lower than last year due to heavy rainfall during ...
New measures for schools considered as situation becomes ‘untenable’
Belgium's various education partners met on Wednesday to discuss additional measures to implement in schools as the coronavirus situation worsens in ...
Belgium in Brief: Back To Masks
I really hope you didn't throw out all your masks. You'll be needing them again. Now I do appreciate that this isn't a huge change for ...
Belgium a climate slowcoach as EU reveals emissions progress
The European Union is on track to pass its first big climate test, according to new figures published this week. But Belgium has been singled out for ...
Belgium’s decision on possible third shot postponed until Saturday
The decision on how Belgium will proceed with the roll-out of third shots of the coronavirus vaccine has been postponed until Saturday.  The news ...
Experts and politicians respond to new coronavirus measures
The handful of measures (re-)introduced by Belgium's Consultative Committee on Tuesday in response to the worsening coronavirus situation have had a ...
New fraudulent e-mails circulating in Belgium
A warning has been put out about new phishing e-mails that have been circulating since last Saturday and are sent from what could appear to be an ...