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Vanhasselt's frustration is Europe's as a resurgence of the virus is dealing a second blow to the continent's restaurants, which already suffered under lockdowns in the spring. From Northern Ireland to the Netherlands, governments have shuttered eateries or severely curtailed how they operate.


More than just jobs and revenue are at stake — restaurants lie at the heart of European life. Their closures are threatening the social fabric by shutting the places where neighbors mix, extended families gather and the seeds of new families are sown.


A restaurant remains “a place where very special moments are celebrated,” said Griet Grassin of the Italian restaurant Tartufo on the outskirts of Brussels. “It’s not just the food, but it’s the well-being.”


This time, the closures are particularly painful because they might stretch into the Christmas season, nixing everything from pre-holiday office drinks to a special meal on the day. When it comes to purely calories and vitamins, “of course we can live without restaurants,” said food historian professor Peter Scholliers.


Summer, with its drop in COVID-19 cases and a hesitant return to travel, brought some respite, especially in coastal resorts. But then came fall. Any giddiness that the fallout from the pandemic could somehow be contained faced the sobering reality of relentlessly rising coronavirus cases and hospitalizations. Overall, COVID-19 has killed over 250,000 people across Europe, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. Leaders are now warning that things will get worse before they get better.

Covid Virus is pummeling Europe's eateries:

China’s foreign ministry said Friday it may decide not to recognize British-issued passports for Hong Kong residents in retaliation for London’s moves to open a path to citizenship for those holding the documents.


Hong Kong reverted from British to Chinese rule in 1997 and the sides have increasingly feuded over civil rights in the territory. Britain accuses China of failing to live up to its pledges to maintain freedoms in the special administrative region, while Beijing says London is interfering in its internal affairs.


Differences have sharpened since China in June imposed a sweeping national security law on Hong Kong in response to months of anti-government protests last year. London suspended its extradition treaty with the territory and has offered political asylum to persons targeted under the new legislation.

Virus is pummeling Europe's eateries — and winter is coming HEIKRUIS, Belgium (AP) — As the Friday night dinner service began earlier this month at the De Viering restaurant outside Brussels, it seemed the owners' decision to move the operation into the spacious village church to comply with coronavirus rules was paying off. The reservation book was full and the kitchen was bustling.


And then Belgium's prime minister ordered cafes, bars and restaurants to close for at least a month in the face of surging infections. “It’s another shock, of course, because — yes, all the investments are made,” said chef Heidi Vanhasselt. She and her sommelier husband Christophe Claes had installed a kitchen and new toilets in the Saint Bernardus church in Heikruis, as well as committing to 10 months’ rent and pouring energy into creative solutions.

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China may not recognise British issued Hong Kong passports

BEIJING (AP)