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#Belgian waiters wear smiling masks as country reopens

#Belgian waiters wear smiling masks as country reopens

June 8, 2020 | 4:08pm | Updated June 8, 2020 | 4:14pm

These waiters are taking social distancing on the chin.

A Belgian restaurant has given its staff personalized face masks bearing photos of their own smiling mouths in an effort to make the place feel more welcoming.

Video from Agence France-Presse of The Lodge restaurant in Brussels shows waiters serving customers while wearing the freaky face coverings that replicate the bottom halves of their faces

“I think it’s great. At least you can recognize people. You can see what people look like, so it’s a great initiative,” Audrey, a customer of The Lodge restaurant, said in the clip.

The restaurant worked with a company called Cheesebox, which has a photobooth-like device that takes the image and then transfers it onto a surgical mask.

“We thought it was a bit dehumanizing and it’s true that in some industries that doesn’t help with business, so we wanted to put a smile, a face, an identify on people. And so we came up with the idea of printing faces on masks,“ Charles De Bellefroid, CEO of Cheesebox, told the news agency.

Belgium allowed almost all businesses — including bars and restaurants — to reopen on Monday following a three-month lockdown because of the coronavirus pandemic, but social distancing measures must remain.

A waiter wearing a mask with a picture of his face at the Lodge restaurant in Brussels.
Photo by KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP via Getty Images

At the Roy d’Espagne restaurant, one table in two is left empty and customers have to scan a QR code for the menu. Waiters are protected by masks or plastic shields.

Customers were split on the results. Caroline Michils, 39, said the measures were for everyone’s safety. But Florence Vandenhoeck, 68, said the masks and the emptiness of the Grand Place, usually packed with tourists, were a frightening sight.

Monday also marked the resumption of religious ceremonies such as masses.

The country is braced for three years of lost growth from the COVID-19 pandemic, as the 2021-2022 recovery will fail to make up for a 9 percent decline forecast for this year, the central bank said on Monday.

Belgium has 59,348 cases of the virus and has suffered 9,606 deaths. The US — a far larger country — has nearly two million confirmed cases and more than 112,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

With Post wires

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