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The Belgian coast does not come out of the fog

Belgium is opening the floodgates a little more. But no decision on access to second homes will be made before June 8, at the earliest.

Max HELLEFF

Belgium is opening the floodgates a little more. But no decision on access to second homes will be made before June 8, at the earliest.

From our correspondent Max HELLEFF (Brussels) – Resumption of sports training under certain conditions, reopening of hairdressers and beauty salons, authorized access to certain museums, etc. Here are some of the deconfinement measures announced by Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès.

On Wednesday afternoon, after hearing the experts, the National Security Council met again to spell out the decisions which must gradually bring Belgium back to normal life. This body, which brings together regional and community leaders under the leadership of the Prime Minister, has again noted the decline of the epidemic while warning of a new outbreak of the virus.

For the time being, the numbers are encouraging, showing a gradual decline in hospitalizations and the use of intensive care beds. The Covid-19 did however nearly 9,000 dead. An overwhelming statistic even if we know that Belgium has included in the last two months all deaths in nursing homes, whether or not related to the coronavirus.

This new phase of deconfinement made people happy, but also many disappointed. In cultural and sports matters, in particular. But it is true that this umpteenth meeting of the National Security Council was mainly to confirm the resumption of compulsory education classes on May 18. Monday, only part of the primary and secondary classes will resume however, with a host of precautions designed to guarantee students and teachers a certain level of hygiene and social distancing.

And vacations ?

Like everywhere in Europe, Belgians wonder if they can go on vacation this summer. However, they will still have to wait. The National Security Council will not analyze the question of free access to second homes and day trips before June 8. “We will take the time to organize this and present a plan. Some people would like to go to the sea for a day, it must be taken into account and this will be the subject of our discussions in the future, “explained Sophie Wilmès, suggesting that she had noted the objections from the mayors on the side.

The shower is cold. Because, at the end of April, the National Security Council had mentioned May 18 as the date on which second home owners could occupy their property again. However, on May 6, he postponed this decision, preferring to give all families the opportunity to meet (in limited numbers) on Mother’s Day last weekend.

Since then, it’s been the rat race. Several mayors of the Coast, including the thunderous Jean-Marie Dedecker in Middelkerke, threatened not to involve from May 18 the local police in the event of reoccupation of second homes by their owners, Belgian and foreign.

On Tuesday, one of the latter sent a bailiff to the office of the Minister of the Interior, Pieter De Crem, for a summons to appear. He claims 50 euros a day from the state, on the grounds that containment measures prevent him from going to his residence. He considers his right to property violated and demands compensation.

“The Brussels junta”

For Jean-Marie Dedecker, the cup is full: “It is a form of intimidation to distance people from the Coast (…) 80% of the turnover of our traders comes from tourism. Well, if it falls, outright carnage will come to us. (…) The Coast risks becoming a cemetery. It is the junta of Brussels which decides what is happening on the Coast. We live exactly under martial law, ”said the mayor of Middelkerke earlier this week. Atmosphere…


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