People who want to throw a party with more than ten guests in their garden or on their terrace can do so from 9 June, but only if it is organised by a professional caterer, according to Flemish Minister-President Jan Jambon.
Currently, gathering outdoors in groups of maximum ten people (while respecting the social distance and wearing a face mask) is allowed, but this number of people will be expanded from 9 June, the Consultative Committee decided last week.
"Everything that is organised [this summer] should be arranged by a professional organisation," Jambon said on ATV on Sunday.
In practice, this means that someone is not allowed to throw a garden party for 50 people, "unless they put a professional caterer on it," he added.
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"Whether it is in a party hall or at someone's house, if it's a professional caterer who takes care of things and makes sure that everything is in line with the rules, it is allowed," Jambon said, adding that this is not an additional task for the caterers.
"This is why we work with professional people," he said. "The same happens in the bars and restaurants: there are a number of protocols and rules imposed, and the manager of the business is responsible for applying them correctly."
Jambon's statements were heavily criticised in Parliament, as Green MP Imade Annouri stated that "the so-called 'kingdom of freedom' is a bit closer for those who have a large garden and can afford a caterer. For the rest, tough luck."
According to virologist Marc Van Ranst, however, it would make sense to call in a professional, but whether or not everything goes well will still depend on the guests at the party.
"You expect the professional caterer to take care of the organisation as well as the food and drink, so that everything can be done 'safely', but I do not think it is that easy for a caterer to supervise," he told Het Nieuwsblad.
Van Ranst said that particular attention should be paid to the usual rules, such as sufficient distance between tables, with a maximum of four people per table, and people staying far enough apart.
The exact rules and conditions will become clear in the Ministerial Decree, which the Interior Affairs Ministry will publish in the coming days.