The city of Ghent has officially cancelled its Christmas and New Year's holiday events, as well as the arrival of Sinterklaas, in the face of rising coronavirus figures.
The decision came after a crisis meeting between the city and health officials, held Saturday afternoon.
"The situation is very serious," said mayor Mathias De Clercq. "Our medical experts insist on the importance of avoiding as many contacts as possible. That is why we have decided together to cancel or scale down events organised by the city where it is very difficult to guarantee safety."
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The arrival of Sinterklaas, in particular, was cancelled as children do not have to wear a mouth mask and do not have a Covid Safe Ticket. "Safety cannot be guaranteed now that the number of infections is also rising rapidly among children. In the interest of keeping the schools open, the Ghent Crisis Cell has decided that it is better not to proceed," the city explained in a press release.
Op advies van de medische experten schrapt de Stad Gent de intrede van de sint van morgen. Ook de Gentse Winterfeesten, het oudejaarsvuurwerk en de nieuwjaarsdrink onder de Stadshal gaan niet door. Wel komt er een openluchtijspiste en een winterbar. #genthttps://t.co/T54SYWzRQQ— Stad Gent (@Stadgent) November 20, 2021
The remainder of the events were cancelled as the practicalities of the CST seemed impossible during the festivities.
An ice rink and a winter bar will be set up as these can be closed off to check for the covid safe ticket. Those who come to skate will have to reserve a time slot in advance, and the hours of the bar will be adjusted to those of the skating track.
Sunday shopping will also go ahead through December to better spread out crowds.
"It is imperative that we take precautions. If we judge that it cannot be done safely, then it is better not to do it," said De Clercq.