The Brussels Capital Region will close all bars and introduce additional precautions from Thursday on to curb the spread of the coronavirus, the region’s crisis unit announced Wednesday.
The region will close all bars, cafés, professional and amateur sport clubs and party halls for one full month. It will also ban the consumption of alcohol in outdoor public places in selected neighborhoods as well as food consumption in outdoor markets. The measures will be reevaluated after one month.
The decision comes after a meeting on Wednesday, in which Rudi Vervoort, the region’s premier, met with its Health Minister Alain Maron — as well as the 19 Brussels commune mayors and officials from the police and the Community Commune Commission — to assess the situation.
They concluded that harsher measures are in order. Over the past seven days, there were 3,783 new infections registered in the region, lifting the case rate per 100,000 inhabitants to 502.4 averaged over two weeks, the officials said.
While the infection rate is still higher among young people, “there’s indeed an increase also in the higher age groups,” their statement read. “The virus is spreading from generation to generation and is starting to affect the vulnerable population.”
The officials noted that of all those getting tested in the region, one out of seven has a positive result.
They also pointed out that Brussels hospitals are now approaching critical capacity, with all of them having exceeded 15 percent of ICU bed occupancy, and two exceeding 25 percent.