Covid demo in Brussels as cases top 40,000 a day

Covid demo in Brussels as cases top 40,000 a day
Credit: Belga

The latest demonstration against government policy in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic is under way, marching from to the Cinquantenaire Park.

The demonstration is organised by Europeans United, together with several national branches of World Wide Demonstration and more than 600 local associations from all over Europe. The organisers claim to be demonstrating for freedom, democracy, human rights and respect for the constitution.

"We are not against the corona measures as such," said Tom Meert, chair of Europeans United. "We are mainly against the undemocratic way in which they are created."

Previous demonstrations have ended in violence as demonstrators clashed with police. This time, the organisers say, that outcome will be strenuously avoided.

"Open debate is the best vaccine against a society sickened by polarisation," Meert told the VRT. The police will again be present, and the organisers will deploy their own stewards. The march will not feature propaganda from anti-vaccination advocates or other sceptics.

"We are not corona sceptics," said Meert. "And all views are welcome. We don't want political recuperation."

The march in Brussels coincides with similar demonstrations in other cities across Europe.

"We want to point out that a large and ever-growing group of people no longer feel that they are heard in the social debate,” Meert said.

“In order to do something about the polarisation between people who are for or against measures, we want to initiate public debate so that people have a way to better understand other points of view."

The organisers would like to see parliament more involved in the debate. The GEMS expert group has been given too much power throughout the crisis, Meert said, although "those people are not the problem in themselves."

The march begins from the North station and aims for Rue de la Loi and the Parc Cinquantenaire, where it will be addressed by a number of speakers. The organisers expect anywhere between 10,000 and 100,000 people to attend.

Meanwhile, according to unconsolidated figures from the office of health minister Frank Vandenbroucke, 40,235 new infections were registered daily between 13 and 19 January. On 19 January itself, the provisional number of new infections reached 60,789.

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