Brussels mayor: 'Don't come to city's winter festival if unvaccinated'

Brussels mayor: 'Don't come to city's winter festival if unvaccinated'
The 2019 edition of Brussels' Winter Wonders Christmas market. Credit: Plaisirs d'Hivers/Winter Pret

Brussels mayor Philippe Close has appealed to non-vaccinated people to stay away from the city's Winter Wonders festivities and the Christmas market for their own safety.

During Monday evening's City Council meeting, Close explained that, especially during the first weekend, large crowds are expected to flock to the various attractions and stalls across the city. He said that this will be a risk for people who are less well protected.

"If you're not vaccinated, we advise you not to come to the Winter Wonders. It's the same message as always: you have to protect yourself, and people who are not vaccinated are taking a pretty big risk by coming," he said.

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Various measures have been announced so that the event, which will start on Friday 26 November, can still go ahead despite the worsening coronavirus situation. This has already lead to other cities, including Ghent and Leuven, cancelling their Christmas events. It is also expected to have an impact on the number of people attending Brussels' winter celebrations.

"We found it important to let the event continue despite the difficult coronavirus situation, as it is important for the centre and for traders and the attractiveness of the city. Of course, we will respect the latest measures announced by the government," Delphine Houba, councillor for major events, said during the City Council meeting.

CST bracelets

To ensure public safety, a bracelet system showing that visitors have a valid Covid Safe Ticket will be introduced across the entire Winter Wonders route. Visitors will have to show this to gain access to the food, beverage and souvenir stands.

These bands can be collected at about ten locations across the city, and will only remain valid for one day; anyone coming two days in a row will not be able to use the same bracelet. A map will soon be published showing where the bracelets can be obtained.

"The traders must also be aware that they have a responsibility. If they do not check the bands thoroughly, they risk being excluded from Winter Fun," warned Close.

Large crowds are expected at the various attractions around the city. Credit: City of Brussels

Meanwhile, face masks will be mandatory at all Winter Wonders locations and on the whole route for people over the age of 10. This includes on the streets connecting various attractions, Houba explained.

"We will follow the situation closely and we will adapt at any time to the situation and to measures taken by organisers and others who are working to make this happen," she stated.

More information on the concrete measures taken can be found here.

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