Bars and restaurants in Belgium want to begin reopening step by step from 1 March, according to CEO of Horeca Vlaanderen Matthias De Caluwe.
In a proposal submitted to the authorities, De Caluwe requests to take very strict measures for a few weeks, and then to reopen bars and restaurants under strict conditions from March.
"I hope that the federal government will announce an ambitious message on Friday, such as 'stick together and on 1 March the hospitality industry will open again'," he told Het Laatste Nieuws, referring to the meeting of the Consultative Committee to reevaluate the measures at the end of the week.
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The reopening does not have to be all at once, but could happen in phases and according to the necessary rules, De Caluwe said. "Not with tables of ten or fifteen people, but starting with a limited number of customers: a family bubble supplemented with one cuddle contact to begin with," he said.
The sector is looking to work out protocols with experts, so the reopening can happen responsibly, with sufficient ventilation and social distance.
"Let us also bring the closing time into line with the curfew so that there are no after-parties," he added. "And let's start on a small scale - while retaining support for businesses that cannot - and then evaluate after a month."
If that first month goes well, businesses could look into allowed bubbles of families with two cuddle contacts, for example.
Additionally, the general populations will also be in the process of being vaccinated in March, meaning the risk will decrease, according to De Caluwe.
"On top of that, when spring comes around and it is warmer, people tend to choose to sit outside on the terrace more often," he added.
The Brussels Times