Opening of bars and restaurants unlikely this year

“I think the shops will be able to open again, but not the catering industry. That is only possible when we are on about 50 infections per day,” Van Ranst said in an interview with the Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant. [Shutterstock/Alexandros Michailidis]

The reopening of Belgium’s hospitality sector is rather unlikely this year, virologists warned amid discussions about an end to the tightened coronavirus lockdown measures.

“We know that pubs and restaurants are a high-risk environment. That has nothing to do with people in the hospitality industry because they do their best, but it is a meeting place,” biostatistician Niel Hens told VRTadding that spring would seem a more realistic time to reopen without causing a third wave.

“Such a wave, however, will never depend on one sector alone, it will be a combination of sectors,” Hens added.

At the same time, virologist Marc van Ranst echoed this position.

“I think the shops will be able to open again, but not the catering industry. That is only possible when we are on about 50 infections per day,” Van Ranst said in an interview with the Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant.

“First of all, a good test and trace policy is crucial, but above all we should not scale things down too quickly,” he added, saying that he fears that it will not work out before Christmas.

The day after tomorrow it will be exactly one month ago that cafés and restaurants had to close for the second time.

Belgium is expected to review the measures currently in place on 27 November.

(Alexandra Brzozowski, EURACTIV.com)

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