'Safe spring': Belgian hospitality sector plans to reopen on 1 April

'Safe spring': Belgian hospitality sector plans to reopen on 1 April
Credit: Belga

The hospitality industry in Belgium has drawn up its own plan to guarantee a safe reopening from 1 April, ahead of the Consultative Committee meeting on Friday.

With their "Safe Spring Plan," cafés, bars and restaurants want to start working again by reopening step by step from 1 April to 1 July, with the government's measures in mind.

"We can be an ally, a part of the solution, to make people persevere towards the reign of freedom," Matthias De Caluwe, CEO of Horeca Vlaanderen, said in a press release. "A number of uniform measures should get us there."

He stressed that a reopening of bars and restaurants is also a good thing for many other groups, including for students who could pick up a student job again.

"Additionally, going to a bar or restaurant is above all a great mental boost for many Belgians," De Caluwe said. "The hospitality industry provides a vaccine against the grimness that is settling in society. Our 47,000 vaccination centres are eager to reopen."

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The sector is "not hoping for the impossible, but for the reasonable," he stressed, adding that they can help the government to organise things so that people can enjoy the better weather "in a safe and controlled way, something many people long for."

This can be done by implementing just a few measures, according to De Caluwe.

Waiters will have to wear FFP2 face masks, as they will come into contact with people who are not wearing masks while sitting at a table and drinking or eating.

"We are also thinking of a closing time half an hour before the curfew. Also, a CO2 meter in the shop, which measures whether everything is well ventilated or not," he said. "And, you cannot sit at a table with more people than you would be allowed to sit with elsewhere."

According to the sector, these are a number of logical things that can evolve along with the decisions of the Consultative Committee.

"That is verifiable in practice, and therefore a win-win for everyone," De Caluwe added. "Strict, uniform measures, but better this way than remaining closed."

Additionally, the sector is again looking to the authorities for support, as its loss of turnover in 2021 has already reached €2.2 billion, according to first estimates.

"You cannot stay closed for this long and then do the same as before," said De Caluwe.

Maïthé Chini

The Brussels Times

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