All bars in the Brussels-Capital Region are shutting down from Thursday as part of a new round of restrictions imposed by leaders in the Belgian capital as they race to quench flaring coronavirus cases.
The shutdown will come into force from 7:00 AM on 8 October and will also include cafes and the cafeterias of sports clubs, regardless of whether they serve alcohol or not, as well as party and event halls, in measures set to remain in place for at least a month.
Additionally, drinking alcohol in public will also be banned in the entire territory of the Brussels-Capital Region, Minister-President Rudi Vervoort announced in a press conference on Wednesday.
Amateur sports events and competitions will be allowed to continue but without a public, but an audience may still attend professional sports events.
No changes were announced regarding schools or universities but Vervoort said that a meeting with education representatives was slated for Thursday.
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The meeting gathered all 19 mayors of Brussels' municipalities, members of the Francophone-Flemish joint communities in Brussels, Minister-President of the Brussels-Capital Region Rudi Vervoort and Viviane Scholliers Ndaya, chief of regional civil security.
The latest hike-up of restrictions again sets Brussels apart from the rest of the country and follows concerns over "soaring" new infection numbers recently recorded in the Belgian capital.
"One in seven people tested in Brussels returns a positive result, the virus is everywhere in the region," Vervoort said, adding: "There is not a single municipality in Brussels which is below the national average."
Vervoort said that the latest figures showed that there were now 500 new per 100,000 inhabitants in the Brussels-Capital Region, a figure towering well-above an alarming threshold (50 new cases/100,000 inhabitants) defined in the summer.
Vervoort's grim take of the situation in the capital echo statements by national health officials, who in a daily press conference on Wednesday said Brussels now ranked second among all European capitals in terms of new daily infections, just behind Madrid and ahead of Paris.
The announcement on Wednesday comes just a day after the country's new prime minister, Alexander De Croo, announced nationwide restrictions on social contacts and aligned the country with Brussels' decision to have bars close at 11:00 PM.
The Brussels Times
This article has been updated.