Unlike last summer, the Belgian government has announced that it will not allow the installation of plexiglass between the tables on its terraces in order to bring them closer together to accommodate more customers.
These screens were previously named in the protocol for the reopening of the hospitality sector, however, Federal Minister of Justice Vincent Van Quickenborne said terraces shouldn’t place them when reopening.
“The protocol of last summer, which allowed the placing of screens, was copied and handed out to businesses, causing confusion in the field. But we have looked at it all carefully and it does appear to be a risk, for example, the air circulation is lower than in open air and if you sit too close together then there is a risk of infection,” he said on Friday on Radio 1.
Federal Home Affairs Minister Annelies Verlinden asked the Council of State for advice on the health safety of using Plexiglas screens between tables in the light of the new pandemic law, however, has not yet received a response on this, which is why the rules surrounding the implementation remain vague.
“This is because the advice from the Council of State has not yet come, which is why there is no final decision yet, however, we have discussed this with the core ministers and once the decision comes from the Council of State, it is sure these screens will not be used,” said Van Quickenborne.
He added that if the hospitality sector will reopen its doors in June, certain modalities will have to be revised.
From 8 May, after six months of closure, businesses in the hospitality sector will be able to reopen terraces between 8:00 AM and 10:00 PM, and up to four customers can be served per table (exceptions will be made for households).
In cities across Belgium, businesses have been applying for permits to expand their terraces into public spaces, such as on parking spaces, where possible. This has lead to administrations in Brussels and Ghent being flooded with requests.