Bart De Wever, the leader of the Flemish rightwing N-VA party and mayor of the city of Antwerp, denounced the “unclear measures” against the spread of the new coronavirus (Covid-19) and said he will not enforce all of them.
Last weekend, the Antwerp police issued some 300 fines for people who did not comply with the coronavirus measures. “We focus on the essence of the ministerial decree: gatherings and non-essential movements,” said De Wever on Radio 1 on Monday.
The instructions are not always clear, and sometimes raise additional questions, according to De Wever. “There are things in the ministerial decree that I do not want to enforce because I cannot explain them,” said De Wever. “It is not allowed for someone to play basketball on their own, but physical activity is encouraged. And resting on a bench is forbidden? Sorry, I am not going to enforce that,” he added.
The system of municipal administrative sanctions is a good one, according to De Wever, but he would have liked to vary the fixed amount of €250. “For some violations, that is far too much. And it is not applicable to minors. That is not ideal in a big city,” he added.
“Intervening in people’s personal lives, asking in the supermarket where someone lives, these are things I won’t order my corps to do. Common sense must come first,” De Wever said.
Gwendolyn Rutten, the president of the liberal Open Vld party, took to Twitter to say that “there is no ban on sitting on a bench,” but there is a ban on gatherings and a need for social distancing, adding that what we need is “common sense instead of politics.”
Gezond verstand ipv politiek gedoe.
Er is geen verbod om op een bank te zitten.
Er is wel een samenscholingsverbod, + nood aan social distancing.
Ook nood aan fietsen, stappen, lopen – niet hangen.
-zit gerust op een bank
-op afstand van elkaar
-niet in groep
— Gwendolyn Rutten (@RuttenGwendolyn) April 6, 2020
“It is very clear you are not allowed to hang around in the park for an afternoon. But if you walk, cycle or hike, you may rest a while on a bench on the way,” she wrote. Rutten calls the fact that in some cities the benches have been removed a “preventive measure”.
“The government can estimate to preventively cordon off places where people know they are gathering,” she added.
The Brussels Times