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'Make mine a double': Belgium launches Helpy Hour to support bars struggling amid COVID-19 lockdown

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By Euronews with Associated Press
A worker scrapes the foam off of a glass of beer before serving, in Bruges, Belgium.
A worker scrapes the foam off of a glass of beer before serving, in Bruges, Belgium.   -   Copyright  AP/Virginia Mayo
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A bid has been launched in Belgium to swap happy hour for helpy hour.

In a move aimed at supporting bars struggling amid the coronavirus lockdown, customers would pay double.

It's a reversal of happy hour, where drinks are often two-for-the-price-of-one.

According to the Federal Federation of Cafés, which is championing the measure, half of the country's 12,000 cafés could shutter because of COVID-19.

"I don’t think the Belgians will be happy to see their beloved cafes disappear," Diane Delen, the federation’s president told the Associated Press.

She said that helpy hour is "a temporary measure that will help avoid an avalanche of bankruptcies".

"Once everything is back to normal, clients will be satisfied because happy hours will return," she added.

Hospitality businesses are preparing to reopen next week after more than two months of closure and beer lovers in Belgium — whose beer culture is on the UNESCO's intangible cultural heritage of humanity list — are being called upon to help them out.

"You do remember Happy Hour right," is written on the Helpy Hour website.

"Well, now that bars are slowly reopening after they had to close for months, it's time to return the favour," it says.

"The thing about Helpy Hour is, you decide when it's Helpy Hour. Just tell the bartender 'Ey pal, it's Helpy Hour', and pay double," it adds.

"It's kind, it's noble. It's help. It's the least we can do," it concludes.

Although they've been allowed to reopen their doors from June 8, Belgian bars and restaurants will have to enforce strict social distancing measures which are expected to impact customer numbers.