'We are not going to play terrace police'

'We are not going to play terrace police'
Credit: Belga

When the terraces reopen on Saturday, the police will not be carrying out extra checks and issue fines, but will instead rely on the responsibility of business owners and their clients.

While the police must check whether the measures - such as the 10:00 PM closing time - are properly observed, they "are not going to play terrace police," said Nicholas Paelinck of the Local Police Committee.

"There will not be a police officer at every terrace. We are once again counting on the cooperation of the hospitality industry," he told Belga news agency.

"We know that the protocols are good and that the owners take their responsibility," Paelinck said. "We are also counting on the customers, specifically that they will simply leave at closing time."

After 10:00 PM, the police will take action if there is a problem, with night-time noise for example, but officers will first try to make people aware of the rules. "If it is a frequent occurrence, we will issue an official report. Afterwards, in the public space, we will look at each case individually."

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From midnight, the ban on gatherings for more than three people (with exceptions for larger households) will apply until 5:00 AM.

Controls on that measure will also be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, according to Paelinck, who stressed that the authorities are counting on people's common sense.

"We have been doing this for a year now," he said. "Apart from a few people maybe, everyone knows what to do by now. Society has evolved. I therefore expect few problems."

"Everyone is itching to reopen, and we will not get two chances: this cannot go wrong," Paelicnk added. "I think everyone realises that."

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