Preparations to make the Brussels pedestrian zone alcohol-free are underway, with business owners and passers-by informed that a planned alcohol ban will take effect from February.
Signposts with information about the rules governing the upcoming ban were put up in the boulevards making up the pedestrian area around Bourse.
Information leaflets in French, Dutch and English were also distributed to shopkeepers and businesses in the area, who were also informed that some food and drink establishments as well as licenced events, would be exempted from the ban.
The ban in downtown Brussels was given the go-ahead in December, with officials at the time saying it would comprise Boulevard Anspach, as well as Place Fontanais and Place De Brouckère, located at either end of the boulevard.
The ban will also include Rue des Fripiers, Rue du Midi and Place de la Monnaie. Drinking in those areas will be forbidden from 1 February from midnight until 6:00 AM.
Additional police officers to enforce the regulations, with offenders risking having their drinks seized, a fine or a detention, if they exhibit drunk or disorderly behaviour, BX1 reports.
The ban will be in place for a pilot period of six months after which authorities will assess the results. Its implementation follows numerous nuisance complaints and reports that theft and violent incidents were surging in the area.
Its implementation follows similar regulations implemented by authorities in Schaerbeek and Saint-Josse, who banned night-time drinking on a street that occupies both the municipalities’ territories, following a number of complaints in the area.
As reports of theft and other crime increased, Brussels Mayor Philippe Close said that an increase police presence in the area was yielding results, noting a higher number of arrests.
Up to last September, a total of 165 arrests were due to drug-related offences, 144 due to theft with violence and around a hundred others due to pickpocketing or petty thefts.
An additional 177 administrative (GAS) fines were also issued for public intoxication and 354 for disturbances to the public order.
The Brussels Times