Outdoor drinking to be banned in Belgium?
Today is the first day a new ban on mid-week outdoor drinking will take effect in Brussels. The ban forces revellers to pay a whopping €110 when caught with alcohol on the streets during mid-week happy hours from 5pm to 7am.
Brussel’s major nightlife centre Place Châtelain has been forced to change into a sober city overnight on Wednesday after Mayor Willy Decourty imposed the ban: drinkers can still enjoy their beverages in café terraces, but only up to 11pm. Visitors to evening markets and drink stands are also discouraged to linger after the shops close.
The opinions of residents living in the surrounding areas are divided on the ban: some say it was about time Châtelain ended its overnight parties to let exhausted residents sleep in peace. Others say the news was unfortunate and going overboard.
The mayor however defended the new ruling, saying that safety was also one concern that made them enforce the ban: ‘police currently use road blocks to slow down and stop traffic circulating in the area, but we’re concerned that an aggressive or incautious driver will hit someone all the same or surge into the crowd of drinkers.’
Many expats fear that the ban in Châtelain will soon spread all over Brussels, significantly changing the mid-week outdoor partying tradition in Belgium’s chief city. Some even say that Place du Luxembourg could be next.