Belgian rail accused of ‘deliberately’ exporting coronavirus to the coast
Monday, 29 June 2020
The seaside municipality of Knokke-Heist is threatening to take Belgium’s national railway service, the SNCB, to court.
In a press release sent on Monday, the municipality accuses the railway company of not having established a protocol to combat the spread of the new coronavirus (Covid-19) on the coast this summer. It also warns that it could close its doors during heat peaks.
The municipality is very concerned about the “disrespectful visitors and the enormous inconvenience” that came with the nice weather last week, according to Knokke-Heist Mayor Leopold Lippens. “Like several other coastal towns, Knokke-Heist has been invaded by visitors who did not respect the rules. They caused inconvenience and harm to the police, social workers and other visitors,” Lippens said.
“The uncontrolled influx of visitors from major cities in Belgium and northern France was sometimes by car, but mostly by train,” according to Lippens. “These large cities are unable to stem the flow of demonstrations, parties and other mass gatherings, thus endangering security on a large scale. If these same people then travel to Knokke-Heist, this creates irresponsible and undesirable risks.”
“There are no measures in place to increase safety and enforcement of measures related to Covid-19, nor a reduction in supply, nor a price adjustment,” Lippens lamented. “These issues need to be addressed urgently, as this is how the SNCB deliberately organises the export of the coronavirus from Brussels to the Coast.”
Knokke-Heist is threatening to take the SNCB to court if a reliable protocol is not established. “In addition, the possibility of being able to seal off the seaside resort during the next hot days is being studied. The number of targeted inspections, both for visitors travelling by train and for those travelling by car, will also be greatly increased,” said the mayor.