“We’re not discussing opening pavement cafés”

Belgian health minister Frank Vandenbroucke (Flemish socialist) has given short shrift to calls from seaside mayors and the hospitality industry to allow pubs and restaurants to open their terraces and pavement cafes during the Easter break that will soon be upon us.   Mr Vandenbroucke says that relaxations may appeal to people, but those in authority should stop trying to fool people and tell people things that don’t stroke with reality.

Mr Vandenbroucke told VRT that there was no question of bar terraces being reopened for Easter, whatever people in coastal areas may wish.

Hospitality suggests that opening terraces would make it easier for people to keep their distance now that only home breaks are possible this Easter.  Seaside mayors would like to open pavement cafes because this would mean more loos were available too!

Pointing to rising cases of Covid health minister Vandenbroucke says it’s too early to decide on a reopening.  Hospitality is scheduled to reopen on 1 May at the earliest and “if figures permit”.

“This is not the time to speak of reopening terraces” Mr Vandenbroucke told VRT. “If you respect people, you should tell them the facts: there are more cases and more people are being hospitalised.”

Jean-Marie Dedecker (right wing liberal), Mayor of the resort of Middelkerke, is very much at odds with the minister.  He wants hospitality to reopen soon and has asked bar owners in his resort to reopen for Easter”.

“Refusing to discuss the opening of pavement terraces means you have lost touch with reality.  Last week I invited the minister to visit Middelkerke and see things with his own eyes, but he didn’t come.  We expect large crowds at Easter.  If they want even worse figures, then they should keep the terraces closed.  People will crowd together anyway.  Is that the plan?  We have room on the seafront and on the beach.  We can organise things safely.”

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