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Alexander De Croo does not disarm in the face of the bronca

The Belgian Prime Minister maintains the health restrictions with certain relaxations for Hospitality and Culture.

Max HELLEFF

Max HELLEFF

The Belgian Prime Minister maintains the health restrictions with certain relaxations for Hospitality and Culture.

From our correspondent Max HELLEFF (Brussels) – On the front side, there is the reopening of the terraces of restaurants and cafes maintained on May 8, with the possibility of welcoming the public from 8 to 10 p.m., with a maximum of four people allowed at the same table. Measures, in particular fiscal measures, have also been adopted in recent days to help the Horeca sector to hold on.

On the tails, there could be no question for Prime Minister Alexander De Croo to satisfy restaurateurs and cafetiers who demand to reopen on May 1 by encouraging civil disobedience. In the end, the Consultative Committee which met this Friday essentially took technical decisions.

The main implementing measures for the coming weeks had already been set on April 14, and some modalities still had to be decided. That’s done. But beware: they remain conditional on an improvement in the health situation.

At least 80% of vulnerable people must have been vaccinated by May 8, the Prime Minister said, and a decrease in the occupancy of covid beds in intensive care must have been observed for several days – the limit should not exceed 500 beds. Although indicators of the pandemic are slightly down, intensive care units remain close to saturation with more than 900 patients infected with the coronavirus.

The cultural sector disappointed, but rebellious

As far as culture is concerned, performances, shows and events will be allowed – again from May 8 – with a maximum of 50 people outside. If the situation improves in June, 200 people will be admitted outdoors. Inside, it will be possible to occupy 75% of the seats, all this of course with the wearing of a mask and compulsory social distancing. Finally, starting next week, cultural test events will be organized inside to learn how to control the virus there.

Needless to say, the cultural sector expected much better. In recent days, he has joined the Horeca in its rebellious opposition to health measures. He asks for permission to organize shows for a hundred people from May 8. According to the “Still standing for culture” movement, 80 organizations and circles would be ready to circumvent the rules of containment. Between April 30 and May 8, he announces, “there will be screenings, shows, concerts, debates, performances, public rehearsals every day in Belgium”. With a peak announced on May 1, Labor Day.

In Brussels, the Varia theater, the Monnaie or the National Theater have announced in turn that they will defy the instructions. On the RTBF public channel, Fabrice Murgia, the director of the National Theater, explained that he would set the spectator gauge according to the number of people still hospitalized in intensive care. He called for protocols to be put in place by the authorities and for tests to be finally carried out to allow the public to be received in complete safety.

The cultural sector has also given itself an ideal and gradual order of operation. On May 8, resumption of indoor events for up to a hundred people, and 200 people outdoors. Then, to hear, this number should increase to reach this summer up to 5,000 people within the framework of open-air festivals… Optimistic perspective since, let us remember, only 50 people will be admitted for outdoor shows from the May 8.

Even before the holding of this Consultative Committee – which brings together the federal government, the Regions and the Communities – Alexander De Croo made it clear that he would not shrink from the bronca which has extended from Horeca to Culture. In the House, Thursday, he said “that we should not expect further flexibility. “

The decisions taken this Friday poorly hide the fractures that divide the political world. If Alexander De Croo and Minister of Health Frank Vandenbroucke stay the course, it is at the cost of a standoff with certain government parties. The three Ministers of Culture in the country have thus supported the demands of the sector for which they are responsible. The ecologist Bénédicte Linard, whose party is a component of the Vivaldi coalition which governs at the federal level, is one of them.


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