"First the schools,  bars and restaurants last”

The Federal Economy Minister Nathalie Muylle (Flemish Christian democrat) has said in an interview that once the measures designed to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus are relaxed this will be done in stages. First the schools will fully reopen and lessons recommence. Then teleworking will be reduced and people be allowed to return to their places of work. Last in line will be the reopening of bars and restaurants. Ms Muylle added that the authorities must do all in their power to offer support to the hospitality industry. 

The measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 were brought in gradually. First events that pull in big crowds such as concerts and sporting events were banned, then bars and restaurants were closed and a few days later all non-essential shops were also forced to close their doors. Experts have said that once the novel coronavirus has reached its peak the measures will be revoked gradually.

But how will this be done and which of the rules will be scrapped first?

In an interview with the daily ‘Het Laatste Nieuws’ the Federal Economy Minister Nathalie Muylle said “It seems to me that the schools should be the first important step before we gradually started revoking the measures”.

"I thing that allowing the shops to re-open and reducing teleworking will be the next step”.

Businesses providing recreational activity such as restaurants, bars and those organising sporting and cultural events won’t be allowed to re-open until the very end. This is bad news for the hospitality industry. The Flemish hospitality industry federation Horeca Vlaanderen calculated that with two extra weeks of its members’ bars and restaurants being closed losses will end up totalling around 1.8 billion euro. This is eight times more than the losses incurred as a result of the 2016 terrorist attacks.

Ms Muylle promises support for the hospitality industry. “We will offer maximum support to the industry. We are going to draw sector specific relaunch plans in collaborator with each sector of industry. For the bars and restaurants, but also for the retail sector where there has been a lot of concern in recent days”