The crisis centre of the Brussels Capital Region took the decision on Wednesday morning after the Belgian government introduced earlier closing times for bars across the country. The measure also affects teahouses, coffee bars, cafeterias at sports clubs and reception halls. Consumption of alcoholic beverages in public places is being banned across the capital.
In Brussels restaurants will remain open. Eating food at markets remains banned.
Night shops, betting shops and gambling halls must close at 10PM for a month.
In addition the public will no longer be able to attend sports events for amateurs in enclosed venues. Brussels PM Vervoort says that for professional sports events different rules will apply in the capital. Thursday evening’s match between Belgium’s Red Devils and Ivory Coast will be able to go ahead in the King Boudewijn Stadium with 11,000 supporters in attendance.
The new measure is being introduced on Thursday at 7AM and will apply for a month, at least.
The region is taking the measures to ease pressure on hospitals that are being inundated with Covid patients and still wish to offer regular services to non-Covid patients.
“If we don’t do anything, it will get worse” Brussels regional premier Rudi Vervoort said. “The virus is everywhere in our region.”
On average 540 people are now testing positive for coronavirus each day in Brussels. The 15% of beds set aside for corona patients during Phase 1 have been filled in all hospitals in the capital. In two hospitals over a quarter of beds are occupied by corona patients.
Between 26 September and 2 October nearly 32,000 people were tested for corona virus in the capital. Over 4,400 people tested positive. That’s nearly one test in seven. It’s the highest rate in Belgium with only Liege Province coming anywhere close. One in nine tests comes back positive there.
Rates of infection are particularly high across the whole of Brussels, but in Molenbeek, Sint-Joost, Koekelberg and Ganshoren rates are the highest.
Infection rates are highest among people in their twenties, followed by teenagers and people in their thirties. PM Vervoort notes that the increase in infection rates is now noticeable across all age categories.
It’s just as well Belgium now finally has a new federal government. This morning we learnt that the Walloon regional government was having to quarantine as a precaution after one of its members tested positive. By this afternoon a second Belgian government, the Brussels regional government, was also quarantining after finance minister Sven Gatz tested also positive for coronavirus.