Night shops to be allowed to sell booze until 10pm, bars must respect 1.5m between tables rules

Less than 24 hours before the new rules come into force there is now clarity about the fine print of the relaxations to the coronavirus restrictions. The ministerial decree that turns the relaxation of the measures into law has been published and the suggestion that the use of plexiglass divides between tables might allow the distance between them to be cut to less than 1.5 metres has been scrapped from the protocol under which the hospitality industry will have to operate from tomorrow.  

From tomorow, Saturday 8 May night shops will be allowed to sell alcohol until 10pm. Currently no shops are allowed to sell alcoholic beverages after 8pm. Due to the rule that was brought in a start of the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic last autumn supermarkets that normally stay open until 9pm on Fridays have been closing at 8pm, the time they close on the other days that they are open. Whether they will revert to later opening on Fridays from next week remains to be seen.

The Federal Inner Cabinet also decided to scrap the exception to the rule on distancing between tables on the terraces of bars and restaurants if plexiglass divides are used from the protocol under the which the hospitality industry must work from tomorrow. 

The Corona Commissioner Pedro Facon had remarked earlier this week that the exception was not what had been agreed at last week's meeting of the Consultative Committee. The decission to scrap the exception has met with an angry response from those in the hospitality industry. 

Local Mayors such as the Mayor of Ghent Mathias De Clercq (liberal) and the Mayor of Antwerp Bart De Wever (nationalist) have expressed their disquiet that the higher authorities have left it until the last minute to announce this. 

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