Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest
Owners of cafes and restaurants in Belgium have been adversely affected by tougher new restrictions on public life to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The country of over 11 million last Friday imposed new measures for education, sports, and cultural events as Prime Minister Alexander De Croo urged citizens to comply with hygiene and social distancing rules.
On Oct. 7, bars and cafes were ordered to close after a surge in infections.
Belgium has registered over 320,000 cases so far, including 10,810 deaths -- the highest per capita fatality rate in Europe.
The country's Schaerbeek region, home to the capital's largest Turkish community, is among the places worst-affected by the new measures.
Ahmet Unlu, working in the food and beverage industry for over 20 years, told Anadolu Agency that the situation has deteriorated over the past year.
“We used to work along with six to seven people here but only two people left. We have to close the restaurant at 10 p.m.
"When the cafes are closed, when there are no people outside, small businesses like us do not really have a chance to make money,” he said.
He added that the taxes are too high, and it is almost impossible to make savings.
Mevlut Dogan, another Turkish restaurateur in the same region, said they expect support from the government.
"But we know it will not have much effect because the rents are very high. Gas and electricity are very expensive,” he said. “Three people used to work in this restaurant. Now I’m alone."
Mustafa Karael, who works at a Turkish restaurant, said their business was productive compared to others but this changed fast since the pandemic.
“Now we can only deliver takeaway. But compared to the past, the number of delivery orders has also dropped,” he said, adding that the help from the government is not sufficient.
“Ten people were working in this restaurant. Now only four people are left, " he added.
Ayse Ozdemir, owner of a grocery store, also lamented that the government support is insufficient.
“The state gives €4,000 [$4,730] for a workplace, which has a rent of €10,000,” she said."
* Writing and contribution by Iclal Turan in Ankara