10 changes in Belgian pubs and what to expect in the UK

The majority of Belgian pubs have now reopened, and Belgians are flocking to their local pubs and bars for a drink with friends. Of course, it isn’t quite business as usual yet and there are some strict rules in place to make sure that everyone can has a good and safe time. Here’s 10 things which Belgian pubs have implemented and and some learnings for the what to expect when pubs open in the UK.

1. Social distancing between all tables

This is the most obvious one. While the Belgian pubs are open again, social distancing rules are still in place and a sufficient space is required between all tables. In Belgium, you are advised to stay 1,5 meter apart from people outside your household. The number of tables will need to be reduced to accommodate for this space and thus a lot of pubs and bars have currently limited seating available.

2. Make a reservation

As a result of the limited capacity in the pubs and bars, there won’t be space for all the regulars at the same time. Those who’d like to go to the pub, are advised to make a reservation beforehand to avoid any disappointment.

3. Wait to be guided to your table

When arriving at the Belgian pub, guests are requested to wait at the door so a member of staff can show the table which has been reserved for them. If you do not have a reservation chances are very limited of getting in.

3. Maximum 10 people per table

All tables can only be occupied with a maximum of 10 people. Between all other tables the social distancing rules of 1,5 meters need to be adhered to. So if you see another regular that you’d like to say hi to, you might need to send a text message and a wave instead.

4. Stay seated

Stay seated at all times, the Belgian pubs are now offering table service to ensure social distancing rules can be maintained. No more queuing up at the bar. Of course, you are allowed to stand up and use the bathrooms.

5. No Menus

As one of the most touched objects during a visit the the pub, all Belgian Pubs are advised to remove any menus from the tables and replace them with signage on the walls instead.

6. Don’t touch

Alongside with the menu, all non-essential objects (salt, pepper, sauces,…) have been removed from the tables and guests are advised to not touch anything they don’t need.

7. Pay with card

A lot of Belgian pubs are used to handle cash rather than card. Now card payments are highly advised and paying contactless is the preferred method for paying the bill.

8. Cleaning & Disinfecting

When you leave, your table and chairs will the cleaned and disinfected by the staff, only once this is done teh table will be ready for the next group.

9. Price increases

Due to the additional rules and products required to keep the Belgian pubs open, some pubs have had to increase their prices to keep everything profitable. The Federation of Belgian Cafes has also launched the Helpy Hour initiative to support the pubs. When ordering you can buy 1 and pay for 2, it might seem silly but it helps to keep the pubs stay open.

10. Early closures

All Belgian pubs have to close at 1 AM at the latest, this is to make sure that everyone can still follow social distancing rules and the local pubs are a safe place for everyone.

What Belgium didn’t consider

When the Belgian government allowed pubs to open again from June 9th, some pubs have taken the opportunity to open their doors from midnight to 1AM, allowing those very eager for a pint to drink for 1 hour! Clever.

Read more on Restart Horeca Belgium (in Dutch)

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