Belgian restaurants offering takeaway food during the current measures can now sell alcohol alongside a meal, the total opposite of how the measures were being interpreted by businesses.
The confusion on the measure was caused by the ministerial decree of 18 October, which stated that that restaurant and other food and beverage outlets are closed for one month "except for the offer and delivery of takeaway food and non-alcoholic beverages to take away until 10 p.m. at the latest".
This decision was quickly criticized as it meant that a restaurant cannot sell a bottle of wine for takeaway, while a supermarket could sell food and alcohol until 8:00 PM, prompting accusations of unfair competitive practices from the industry.
In an effort to prevent undue fines Horeca Vlaanderen called on members to stick to the rule, but stated that it wanted clarity quickly "so that in the meantime no catering businesses are unfairly fined."
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Motivated by the reaction, FPS Economy took the matter to competent ministers and the corona commissioner to question the interpretation of the rules, eventually getting a reply from the Ministry of the Interior.
"Businesses that offer take-away meals may also sell alcohol up to 8:00 PM with the meal," explained Peter Poulussen, director of communications at the Ministry of the Interior. "This means that you may not only buy a bottle of wine, but you must also order a meal. And from 8:00 PM onwards, restaurants are only allowed to offer non-alcoholic drinks."
Under the current measures, which came into effect on Monday, bars and restaurants across the country will have to close. Getting takeaway, however, remains possible until 10:00 PM.
Additionally, the sale of alcohol will be banned after 8:00 PM, and a curfew will be installed, prohibiting people from leaving their homes for non-essential reasons between midnight and 5:00 AM.
The Brussels Times