The federation questions the reasoning followed by the government and wants the closure measure to be withdrawn immediately and also demands the necessary support measures for the pubs. If this does not happen, FedCaf Belgium says it has no other choice “but to act in all necessary ways” so that the rights of the cafes would be “respected and their dramatic situation finally recognized”.
Among other things, the federation opposes the unequal treatment of cafes, because they must close early while restaurants do not face the same restrictions. However, according to the professional association, it has not been proven that the risk of transmission of the virus is greater at a café than at a restaurant.
“Minister Ducarme said about this on September 27, 2020 that no information was available about the fact that the catering industry could be classified as a hotspot of contamination. The new measure was therefore clearly determined on the basis of incorrect information”, it sounds. Also, according to the federation, there is no evidence that “compliance with waiver measures fades after 11 pm”. “The difference in treatment decided by the government is in fact unjustifiable because it is not based on objective data.”
Forcing the cafes to close at 11 pm will only have the effect that people, who are in a café, will go to one place or another to continue their evening, it goes on. A potentially large number of people will go to various private places where distance measures are usually ignored or cannot be enforced at all, leading to a greatly increased risk of contamination, the trade association predicts.
In addition, the federation fears that the measure will exacerbate the dramatic financial situation of many cafes. “Cafés currently operate on average at only a third of their capacity. Due to their early closure, an additional 25 percent of this remaining third is removed, leading to a situation that is simply unliveable,” said FedCaf.
Finally, the federation denounces that aid measures have not yet been announced to offset the dramatic consequences for cafe owners and calls on the government not to abandon cafe owners in the fight against COVID-19.