Police in Brussels have started rounding up migrants who spend the day and night in the Maximilien Park near Brussels North station because they are breaking the rule on gatherings.
Under new rules introduced yesterday to help tackle the spread of the new coronavirus (Covid-19), all gatherings of three or more people are banned, and even strangers must observe the minimum distance of 1.5m, known as social distancing.
According to the civil platform for aid to refugees, 97 migrants spent the night in the park last night. In the daytime, the numbers go up to about 120.
Spokesperson Mehdi Kassou told Bruzz, “The police are advising these people to come to the Porte d’Ulysse, but all 350 places there are full. We don’t know where else they could be received.”
The Porte d’Ulysse is a reception centre organised by the platform, previously in an empty office building in Haren, and since last month in the former offices of BelTV near Place Meiser in Schaerbeek.
Contacted for comment, the Brussels-Ixelles police zone directed calls to Brussels mayor Philippe Close, who was not available for comment.
Earlier in the week Close expressed concern at the decision by the federal government to suspend all new asylum applications at the Petit Château by the Brussels canal, again out of concern for gatherings of large numbers of people.
The decision would, he said, see more asylum-seekers on the street, because only those whose request has been registered then have access to accommodation organised by Fedasil, the federal agency for asylum.
However the office of asylum minister Maggie De Block pointed out that the two issues are not linked, and sent the issue back to Close.
“We are currently looking for a solution for those people who want to apply for asylum,” said De Block’s spokesperson. “But those who do not want to must be counted as homeless people, and that’s the responsibility of the city.”
De Block’s office, which is also currently handling the coronavirus situation on the federal level, said they were not aware of the police action in the Maximilien Park.