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The bronca of the Walloon mayors

Liège, Namur or even Mons could allow the terraces to open on May 1 despite the new sanitary rules.

Liège, Namur or even Mons could allow the terraces to open on May 1 despite the new sanitary rules.

From our correspondent, Max Helleff (Brussels) – Willy Demeyer is a personality that matters to the Socialist Party. In recent days, we’ve seen it all over the media. And for good reason: the mayor of Liège is on the way to becoming the face of (passive) resistance to health standards targeting the hospitality industry.

On Wednesday, the Consultative Committee led by Prime Minister Alexander De Croo decided not to reopen restaurants and cafes on May 1. Only the reopening of the terraces will be authorized on May 8. In June, the sector can be fully restarted if the vaccination has progressed sufficiently and if the situation in the intensive care units has returned to near-normal.

For restaurateurs and cafetiers, this is too much. And Willy Demeyer is one of those who, by arguing of his inability to maintain order, supports them. “I am responsible for public order and I see that we do not have enough police forces to put an end to these actions. If the police intervene with the reduced staff which is theirs, that can pose problems of public order in Liège ”, he pleads.

Demeyer is not alone. The mayors of Mons and Namur joined him. The bronca thus extends to the main Walloon towns, which in passing reminded the government of their lack of police resources. May 1, Labor Day, promises to be tense. Particularly in the Ardent City where about fifty restaurateurs are on the go, counting on taking advantage of the rebellious spirit that is traditionally attributed to the people of Liège to mark the occasion.

The mayor of Brussels-City, the socialist Philippe Close, for his part supports the project of the KVS, the royal Flemish theater of Brussels, to reopen its doors on April 26th. Culture has not yet received the green light from the government. His fate will be the subject of a new meeting of the Concertation Committee at the end of next week. Test projects aimed at restoring cultural activities through certain sanitary measures could then be launched. But, for a whole part of the sector, in June it will already be too late. The season will be over.

In an attempt to calm things down, the big arms of the federal government have been invited to the television sets. Alexander De Croo, Frank Vandenbroucke (Health), Annelies Verlinden (Interior)… the message does not vary. “One more week to wait means half a million more people vaccinated. So half a million people who are protected. ” The burgomasters are called upon to recover. “We don’t want the Far West,” says Vandenbroucke ironically. De Croo adds that “this virus does not accept political discussion” and asks city officials to adapt.

The evening wonders: “Astonishing to note this temptation (of rebellion) in Belgium while in France, country of yellow vests, the population follows much more drastic and cumbersome instructions without flinching. Would the seriousness of the health situation justify greater docility? ”.

Politically, the question of the government’s survival is gradually being raised. The Flemish liberal Alexander De Croo is now crossing swords within his coalition with his two most important French-speaking partners: the reform movement (French-speaking liberal) of Georges-Louis Bouchez, which has continued to strangle him for months and , henceforth, through the burgomasters, the socialist party of Paul Magnette. The crisis threatens.


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