The Belgian Poker Challenge will not push through this year, becoming the latest European live event to be canceled as new COVID-19 restrictions are enforced across the region. Over the weekend, PokerStars also decided to postpone the European Poker Tour (EPT) Prague which was originally scheduled to take place at King’s Resort from December 8-20.
Grand Casino de Namur, the host venue of the Belgian Poker Challenge, will remain in operation and will still be accepting poker customers from 3pm to 4am every day, but they will only be able to play small tournaments and cash games.
The casino’s poker manager Bernard de Breyne said large indoor events are no longer allowed under new restrictions implemented across the country, resulting in the cancellation of the 2021 Belgian Poker Challenge which was supposed to kick off on December 9. The festival will most likely take place in early 2022, as suggested by the organizers.

Belgium Enforces New COVID-19 Restrictions

On Monday, Belgium imposed a new set of measures in addition to the mandatory vaccination and wearing of facemasks announced a week ago. The latest restrictions include a 11 pm curfew on shops, bars and restaurants. Table capacities for restaurants have also been reduced to just six per table. No private parties are permitted.
Indoor standing concerts are now banned across the country, and people have also been required to shift to work-from-home setups for at least four days per week.
On December 2, Belgium recorded 20,409 new cases of COVID-19, bringing its total cases to 1,786,444 since the pandemic began. As the country grapples with the rising number of positive cases, the government has warned that tighter restrictions could be put in place if the level of infection continues to increase. Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo stated that the current figures have already surpassed their most “pessimistic” predictions. At the moment, the restrictions are described as “lockdown light”.

Europe Is Now The Center of COVID-19 Pandemic

Europe has now become the center of the pandemic, recording over 2.4 million new infections over the past week. This represents 67% of all cases across the globe during that period.
More countries in Europe have been forced to tighten their measures against COVID-19 as a new variant, Omicron, has already penetrated multiple European countries, including Belgium which confirmed its first case of the heavily mutated variant this week.
The new strain, which is believed to have originated from South Africa, is feared to be more deadly than other variants. Omicron poses a fresh threat in Europe which is currently struggling to contain the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant.
The live poker scene in the region is once again feeling the impact of the latest restrictions, with more and more events being dropped from the calendar. EPT Prague was the first major European festival to be postponed as a result of new measures to combat the virus. EPT Prague was last held in 2019 and organizers are hopeful that the festival could finally return in 2022.
Meanwhile, the World Series of Poker Europe (WSOPE) continues at King’s Resort, but organizers have been forced to make some adjustments to the schedule due to the imposition of curfew and capacity limits.
With the current COVID-19 situation in Europe, it looks like players will need to wait until 2022 to be able to take part in major live events. The priority for now is to ensure everyone’s safety and the best way to do this is to adhere to the latest rules and stay home as much as possible.

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