Fairground workers and their families from all over Belgium gathered in Brussels on Friday morning to protest a mayoral decision to shut down Brussels’ Foire du Midi fair due to concerns over the new coronavirus (Covid-19).
“We are here to start a peaceful protest, because our sector has been hit hard by this decision while fun parks and zoos remain open,” Dimitri Put, spokesperson for Belgian fair workers and owner of a children’s carousel, told The Brussels Times. The decision on the Foire du Midi could affect fairs all over Belgium, according to Put.
“We want to see better measures, in black and white. Our protocols have shown that corona-proof fairs are possible. We don’t do these jobs for fun, we need to make a living too.”
Protestors gathered around 8:00 AM on Parking Lot C on the Heysel plateau, near the Atomium. Following the gathering, at 9:45, around 300 fair trucks drove to the small ring-road surrounding Brussels, Belga reports. They entered the ring around 11:00 AM, causing traffic around the city to slow down. The fair workers will finish their protest on wheels around 3:00 PM, by returning to their starting point.
Trucks used to transport fair stands carried messages like ‘Save the Belgian Fair Culture’.
One protestor arrived in a hearse, commemorating the Foire du Midi.
Federal president of the union for fair workers Hand in Hand, Dimitri Delforge, and a representative for the Belgian Foire-travellers (fair workers), Alexander Dotremont, gave speeches to motivate protestors to make fair workers visible to Belgium, but to respect the traffic and cooperate with the police.
Spokesperson and president of the Brussels Fairworkers' Union Patrick de Corte, who repeatedly voiced the protestors' concerns to the general public over the past week, was also present.
After the speeches, the organisers wished the fair workers a good protest and watched the line of trucks exit the parking lot. The Brussels police watched protestors drive away.
Trucks were directed by police officers through Avenue Houba-de Strooper and onto the ring. Some civilians applauded and gave truck drivers a thumbs up.
The Brussels Times
Photography: Amée Zoutberg