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Easter holiday energized at the North Sea

Lack of trains, insufficient public toilets and the police under pressure: the Belgian coast expects to live through difficult months.

Max HELLEFF

Max HELLEFF

Lack of trains, insufficient public toilets and the police under pressure: the Belgian coast expects to live through difficult months.

From our correspondent Max HELLEFF (Brussels) – From this Saturday April 3, if you take the train to the Belgian coast, you will have no choice but to sit by the window. Only children under the age of twelve will be able to occupy the other places. The measure will apply until the weekend of April 23-24. It is one of the latest measures taken by the authorities to counter the virus.

Necessary for some, stupid and impractical for others, “the place near the window” was the subject of debate throughout the week. The SNCB railway company does not see why it should comply with a measure that does not take into account the realities on the ground. A fortiori when the material and human resources are lacking.

The De Croo government does not want to know anything. “This measure applies to the entire route of trains to coast stations,” explains the office of the Minister of Mobility, Ecolo Georges Gilkinet. This means that travelers who are on trains heading for the coast, but who intend to get off before the last station, are also affected. “

Tone up. SNCB does not intend to increase its offer, all the rolling stock being already mobilized. It is also too late to develop a reservation system this year, a system that would de facto limit the number of travelers. As for the train attendants, they will be helped by the police to calm the recalcitrant. This same police force which struggles a little more every day to enforce the anti-covid measures. Thursday evening, she had to use the water cannons to disperse the thousands of young people who had met at Bois de la Cambre, on the outskirts of Brussels.

These Easter holidays promise to be tense. The mayors of the coast are headlong, particularly those whose municipality hosts a station (Knokke, Blankenberge, Ostend), synonymous with sudden influx of day tourists when the sun is out and therefore possible nuisance . The governor of West Flanders Carl Decaluwé has put Minister Gilkinet on notice. “The Mobility office assumes no responsibility. If there is no response to the formal notice, the way of the Council of State remains open. Closing stations is also one of the possibilities, ”he threatens. Atmosphere …

Manage the large crowd

In the meantime, against bad luck, the seaside resorts are getting ready to handle the large crowd. Tuesday, the coast was black with people. Some tourists came close to staying at the platform when it was time to return, as the trains were overcrowded.

There is another problem and it is significant: the catering (cafes and restaurants) being closed for sanitary reasons at least until May 1, the supply of public toilets may be insufficient to relieve the hundreds of thousands. more tourists that the sun will inevitably bring to the sand.

Each municipality therefore addresses the most in a hurry. Knokke thus requisitioned the toilets of beach bars to make them available to everyone. They will be accessible without obligation to consume. But there are only twenty-five bars and they will only open on sunny days. This summer, however, an ‘upscale’ public toilet complex will open in Lippenslaan.

Finally, an exceptional police force will be present throughout the coming months on the coast. Last August, a fight broke out between young people from Brussels and the police on the beach in Blankenberge. Parasols had been thrown. The seaside resorts no longer want to live such a nightmare. Zero tolerance for criminal behavior is announced. The police should also block access to the busiest beaches if there is a risk of saturation. Better to get information before taking the road to the North Sea. Summer will be hot …


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