Make audience proportional to a venue's size, Culture Minister proposes

Make audience proportional to a venue's size, Culture Minister proposes
Credit: Belga/ Laurie Dieffembacq

Flemish Minister-President and Culture Minister Jan Jambon is advocating a system of proportionality to apply to the cultural sector during the coronavirus crisis which would account for the size of venues.

Jambon stated that he was pleased about the update to the Royal Decree which now allows the reopening of the cultural sector after it was forced to close following measures announced during the Consultative Committee on 22 December. But that this does not put an end to the legal uncertainty for concert venues, cinemas and theatres.

"We must return as soon as possible to a modulated system in which cultural centres can open based on proportionality. For a long time, this worked well in Flanders (during the period before the pandemic law came into force, ed.)," Jambon told Belga News Agency.

If such a system is implemented, it would mean halls and venues can welcome an appropriate number of visitors according to their size.

He added that he would present the adapted version of this system, which takes into account the cultural sector across Belgium, during the next Consultative Committee and that he is currently consulting the sector on the matter.

"Of course, the measures to be taken will depend on the epidemiological situation at the time," he stressed.

Returning to old rules

On Wednesday evening, the Consultative Committee announced that theatres, opera houses, concert halls and cinemas may reopen, reversing the measures they themselves implemented just last week. This followed the decision by the country’s Council of State to suspend the closure of the cultural sector after ruling that those coronavirus measures were disproportionate.

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The rules now in place for venues are the same as those implemented on 3 December: venues may welcome a maximum of 200 visitors and everyone must be seated and wearing face masks at all times.

The initial decision to close the cultural sector went against the advice of the Consultative Committee’s own experts, and set off a firestorm of criticism, while sparked protests from the sector.

Another Consultative Committee is expected to take place next week to work out a structural solution for the culture sector, as well as to reassess the epidemiological situation in light of the rapid circulation of the Omicron variant.

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