Politicians 'got it wrong' in Consultative Committee, socialist leader argues

Politicians 'got it wrong' in Consultative Committee, socialist leader argues
Protest against the new measures in Brussels on Sunday. Credit: Belga

Politicians collectively made a mistake in last Wednesday's Consultative Committee by implementing measures that unfairly impact the cultural sector, leader of the socialist PS party Paul Magnette argued.

He stated that there was no objective reason behind the decision, which was taken in response to the rapid circulation of the Omicron variant and prohibits cinemas, theatres and concert halls from opening.

"I understand the criticism from the cultural world and I fully agree with it," Magnette told L'Echo on Tuesday, adding that this could have been avoided if instead a certificate was introduced based on criteria such as ventilation, mask use and the implementation of the Covid Safe Ticket (CST).

Based on data from the public health institute Sciensano, theatres, concert halls and cinemas are not places where infections are contracted in large numbers, according to reports from VRT News. The decision to close these venues also went in against the advice given by health experts in the GEMS advisory group.

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Magnette, who instead called for more direct measures such as compulsory vaccination, stated that it is now time for politicians to have the "humility" to recognise these mistakes. He said that the Christmas holidays should be a time for the government to question its crisis management strategy, restore confidence, and work on general measures.

"There is no shame, as a politician, in recognising that we make mistakes. Let's try to understand their origins and see how to correct them," he said.

Legitimising rules

Following the Consultative Committee's decision, a protest was organised in Brussels on Sunday. The sector plans to lodge an appeal with the Council of State to suspend the Royal Decree. However, cinemas in Brussels have openly flouted the regulations by opening their doors on Monday.

Magnette is not the only politician to speak out against the decision. Senate chair Stephanie D'Hose also had her concerns, which she made clear by attending the demonstration.

"Something has happened here that neither I nor the people I speak to on the street understand. If people don't think the rules are legitimate, then I think we will have real problems," she told Radio 1.

In light of the decision and the criticism it has received, Federal Health minister Frank Vandenbroucke has scheduled a digital meeting with the cultural sector.


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