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Brussels no-alcohol zone extended for an extra year

20:26 27/09/2022

The City of Brussels is looking to extend a ban on the consumption of alcohol in much of the city centre until October 2023, according to a proposal that will be discussed next week.

The ban was put into place in early 2020 after complaints from residents and shopkeepers about alcohol-related nuisances.

While it originally only applied to the pedestrian zone, after the nuisance shifted elsewhere mayor Phillippe Close extended the perimeter of the ban.

Signs in the area indicate that drinking is forbidden from midnight to 6.00, but the new proposal would change this to a 24-hour ban and shrink the area to which it applies.

On Rue Antoine Dansaert, the ban would only be in effect from Rue Auguste Orts to the Vieux Marché aux Grains, and not the Nouveau Marché aux Grains.

The ban is suspended during festivals or events and the measure does not apply to pubs, hotels and restaurants or their terraces.

Violators risk a fine of up to €350, with an additional €350 in the event of a repeat offence within two years.

The City of Brussels said the alcohol ban has had a positive impact on public order in the city centre.

“There has been a significant decrease in the amount of waste found on the ground and there have been fewer noise complaints,” a draft decision on the proposal reads.

Nevertheless, the city indicated that nuisances remain and “disturbing behaviour is spread out over the whole day and not just at night” - hence the move to a 24-hour ban.

“The nuisances are sometimes noise-related (loud shouting, breaking of glass bottles, etc), sometimes breaches of public safety (fights with bottles, damage or theft), sometimes breaches of public cleanliness (soiling, vomiting as well as the presence of rubbish such as cans, bottles, papers), as well as inappropriate behaviour towards residents or passers-by (insults, shouting, etc),” the text reads.

The ban is intended to protect inebriated people as well, saying “drunk people are easy targets for ill-intentioned people who do not hesitate to take advantage of this temporary vulnerability to commit aggression of any kind, including theft against them”.

Similar bans on public intoxication exist in other Brussels neighbourhoods, including Schaerbeek, Jette, Evere and Saint-Josse-ten-Noode.

If approved, the 24-hour alcohol ban in the city centre will apply until 5 October 2023.

Written by Helen Lyons