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City of Brussels provides blankets to cafes without outdoor heating

10:44 02/11/2022

With colder months ahead, many outdoor cafes in Brussels would normally be setting up outdoor heating devices on their terraces now.

But such heaters are becoming unaffordable amid the ongoing energy crisis, and so the City of Brussels is stepping in to offer blankets for diners who choose outdoor seating options.

The plan is for 600 of the blankets, called 'wollekes', to be distributed to cafes, restaurants and hotels with a terrace, Bruzz reports.

An initial pilot of the programme will see 20 such blankets provided to participating businesses.

“The City of Brussels is helping to look for an alternative to keep customers warm,” alderman for climate Benoit Hellings (Ecolo) explained, adding that should alternatives be found “we can possibly ban heaters for ecological or economic reasons”.

The blankets are made from 100% recycled material, the result of a collaboration between Les Petits Riens and other social economy actors, with additional assistance from Brussels public transport provider Stib.

The storage bags for the blankets will be made of old work uniforms that belonged to municipal workers for the City of Brussels.

The pilot programme aims to test the concept, both for its effectiveness at keeping people warm and its feasibility for broader implementation.

“We have to monitor whether customers do not steal the blankets and whether they are easy to wash, "Hellings told BX1.

The feedback gathered during the pilot phase will determine whether or not the programme will be expanded.

Cafe and restaurant owners are concerned that they will lose customers if diners in outdoor areas cannot be kept comfortably warm, but even before the energy crisis, critics pointed out that most outdoor heaters are highly polluting.

Written by Helen Lyons