In several cities, bars must prove they are not in order to open. A distinction no one knows if it helps contain the virus.
The news restrictions due to the coronavirus they have brought to the fore two Belgian classics this week: beer and surrealism.
Since Brussels bars are forced to close for at least a month on Thursday to cope with a huge increase in coronavirus cases but restaurants are allowed to stay open, the big question on the street is: when a bar is a bar and when is a bar a restaurant? And, more importantly, does the distinction help contain the pandemic?
Something similar happens in Paris, where the bars must close, but the restaurants do not.
All this is reminiscent of the master of surrealism René Magritte, who painted a picture of a pipe and wrote at the bottom: “This is not a pipe” (This is not a pipe)… because, obviously, it is the image of a pipe.
“The betrayal of images”, the title of the painting, is also valid for the bars of Brussels these days. To stay open, bars will have to show that they are not bars.
Aurore from Phanariotis The Golden Peacock, that is advertised as a “Bar Lounge”, he got to work on it as soon as the ban went into effect. How it serves coffee, beers, wines but also pastry and something for snacksr, you think you can stay open.
“Bars really have to close, but bars are not places where food is served,” he said. “So, I interpret that, in a sense, that benefits me and, since I have a cafe that serves snacks, it is like I have two roles. I take off the hat of the owner of a cafe and I put on the hat of the owner of a restaurant ”.
Across Brussels, places famous for their beers are suddenly in the spotlight. its magic in the kitchen.
In the rest of Belgium, bars are forced to close two hours earlier than restaurants. The government tried to make things clearer on Friday by insisting that restaurants will have to display their food safety permit in the window. Without that role, a bar has to remain a bar, no matter how much food is served there.
However, who can blame bar owners for their creativity after suffering a three-month shutdown this spring, as well as service restrictions since the pandemic hit Belgium in March? Many are on the brink of bankruptcy.
“There have already been five suicides among our members,” said Diane Delen, director of the Belgian federation of coffees FedCaf.
Bars insist they have made the same costly efforts as restaurants to enforce coronavirus-related regulations, but authorities insist they in a bar it spreads much more COVID-19 than in a restaurant.
“We know that the virus finds a breeding ground there,” Belgian Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke told VRT. “They are true breeding grounds. Not all bars but sadly too many of them. “
But a day later, on Thursday, he didn’t seem so sure when he was criticized by lawmakers for targeting bars.
“Is there scientific evidence? Colleagues, I will have to frustrate you, disappoint you, ”he said in plenary. “Scientific information is uncertain and the data could be better. “
Those words enrage Delen.