WHAT OPERATIONS ARE STILL POSSIBLE IN BELGIUM FOR THE HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY IN VIEW OF THE MEASURES TO RESTRICT THE COVID19 OUTBREAK?
The National Security Council has taken numerous measures in the fight against COVID-19 that were most recently formalised through the Ministerial Decree of 30 April 2020 regarding the amendment of the Ministerial Decree of 23 March 2020 on urgent measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus COVID–19. The measures have been effective since 23 March 2020 and shall remain into force until 10 May 2020 (inclusive).
CAN THE CORONAVIRUS CRISIS BE RELIED ON TO AVOID PAYING INVOICES?
Although the coronavirus crisis can sometimes be relied on to invoke force majeure, debtors cannot rely on the crisis to avoid paying due invoices.
DOES THE CORONAVIRUS CRISIS EQUAL FORCE MAJEURE ?
The coronavirus crisis disrupts many businesses and agreements. The question arises as to which conditions must be met to lawfully rely on the force majeure principle under Belgian law and what its consequences are.
IS MY CANCELLATION CLAUSE ROBUST?
Service providers generally provide for a cancellation clause in their contracts or general conditions. During the coronavirus crisis such clauses are now being tested. So, are such clauses enforceable?
IS MY BUSINESS AUTOMATICALLY PROTECTED AGAINST CREDITORS DURING THE COVID-19 CRISIS?
With the lockdown measures and other restrictions imposed by the Belgian government to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies are having to deal with revenue loss while having the same level of (fixed) costs. To (try to) mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact and avoid liquidity issues leading to the bankruptcy or judicial dissolution of many businesses, the government will implement new temporary measures to protect businesses in difficulty.
HOW TO INTRODUCE A TEMPORARY CORONAVIRUS UNEMPLOYMENT REGIME BASED ON FORCE MAJEURE?
Until recently, when considering implementing a temporary unemployment regime within a company, employers could, depending on their specific situation, either apply for (1) the temporary unemployment regime based on “force majeure” or (2) the temporary unemployment regime based on “economic reasons”.
MOST SHOPS, AND ALL BARS, RESTAURANTS AND LEISURE CENTRES WILL BE CLOSED AT LEAST UNTIL 20 APRIL 2020. WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR ALL LEASE AGREEMENTS CONCERNED?
All shops, bars, restaurants and leisure/recreational centres are to be closed as from 18 March 2020 until 20 April 2020 at least (an extension until 3 May 2020 is already provided for). Only grocery stores, pet food stores, pharmacies, banks, post offices and newspapers shops, petrol stations and fuel suppliers will remain open until that date insofar as the social distancing (at least 1,5 meter distance) can be guaranteed. The hairdressers were to be closed as of 25 March 2020 until 20 April 2020. Night shops can stay open until 10 pm insofar as social distancing is applied. Food stalls on markets are only allowed insofar as considered essential in areas that do not have commercial food infrastructures. All public gatherings are not allowed until 20 April 2020.
Hotels stay can stay open (except for the restaurant area).
Delivery of meals and meals to take away are permitted.
For supermarkets only one person per 10m² sales surface is allowed to be inside the store for a period of 30 minutes. Sales or discount actions are forbidden in order not to stimulate hording.
Travelling outside of Belgium which is considered not essential is not allowed.
What does this mean for all lease agreements concerned?