SINT-PIETERS BRUGGE, Belgium — Master chocolatier Dominique Persoone stood forlorn on his huge workfloor, a faint smell of cocoa lingering amid the idle machinery — in a mere memory of better times. Easter Sunday is normally the most important date on the chocolate makers’ calendar. But the coronavirus pandemic, with its lockdowns and social distancing, has struck a hard blow to the 5-billion-euro ($5.5-billion) industry that’s one of Belgium’s most emblematic. “It’s going to be a disaster,” Persoone told The Associated Press through a medical mask. He closed his shops as a precautionary measure weeks ago, and says “a lot” of Belgium’s hundreds of chocolate-makers, from multinationals to village outlets, will face financial ruin. For the coronavirus to hit is one thing, but to do it at Easter — when chocolate bunnies and eggs are seemingly everywhere — doubles the damage. Yet amid the general gloom Belgians are allowing themselves some levity for the long Easter weekend. Some producers, like Persoone’s famed The Chocolate Line, offer Easter eggs or bunnies in medical masks, while the country’s top virologist has jokingly granted a lockdown pass to the “essential” furry workers traditionally supposed to bring kids their Easter eggs. For young and


Continue To Full Article