Buy 2, get 1: Belgium launches Helpy Hour to support bars

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FILE – In this file photo dated Thursday, May 26, 2016, a workers scrapes the foam off of a glass of beer before serving, in Bruges, Belgium. Bars and restaurants in Belgium will be allowed to reopen starting Monday June 8, 2020, under strict coronavirus conditions, with tables spaced at least 1.5 meters apart, with patrons being asked to support their locals. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo, FILE)

BRUSSELS | Remember Happy Hour, when you ordered one beer and got two?

Well, that was before the coronavirus hit. It’s now time for “Helpy Hour” in Belgium, a country whose beer culture is on UNESCO’s intangible cultural heritage of humanity list.

As bars and restaurants prepare to reopen next week following two and a half months of closed doors due to the coronavirus pandemic, Belgian beer lovers are being urged to buy one drink for the price of two in support of their favorite locals.

“Now that bars are slowly reopening after they had to close for months, it’s time to return the favor,” the federation of Belgian cafes said to promote the campaign to change Happy Hour into Helpy Hour.

Bars and restaurants in Belgium will be allowed to reopen starting Monday under strict conditions, with tables spaced at least 1.5 meters (5 feet) apart, and a maximum of 10 people per table. Ordering and drinking at the bar won’t be possible and waiters will have to wear face masks.

Diane Delen, the federation’s president, said the draconian measures will reduce attendance in bars by at least two thirds. She told The Associated Press on Thursday that the “helpy hour” initiative will help bar owners bear the shock of the economic crisis triggered by the virus.

“I don’t think the Belgians will be happy to see their beloved cafes disappear,” she said. “It’s a temporary measure that will help avoid an avalanche of bankruptcies. And once everything is back to normal, clients will be satisfied because happy hours will return.”

An average beer at a Brussels bar or cafe costs about 2.8 euros ($3.2).

According to the federation, half of Belgium’s 12,000 cafes may not survive the coronavirus crisis.

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