Belgium in Brief: Closing culture

Belgium in Brief: Closing culture
Credit: Canva/Belga

As many of us in Belgium and beyond were taking it easy on Sunday, spending time with relatives and still digesting large Christmas dinners, thousands took to the Brussels streets to protest against the closure of cultural spaces.

As the Omicron variant takes the continent by storm, ministers took the decision to prohibit almost all venues – including theatres, cinemas and concert halls – from opening, essentially putting the entire cultural sector on ice in an effort to prevent yet another coronavirus wave.

Now whilst nobody is contesting the need to be cautious in the face of this highly infectious new variant, the decision to shut down the cultural sector outright has seriously annoyed not only those who work there, but also a large portion of the public as well as prominent health advisors.

Accusations of unequal treatment have been levelled at the government and, when you see the crowds of shoppers packed into the Brussels Christmas market, it isn’t hard to understand the cries of unfairness. This is particularly so when you consider how cultural spaces have gone to great lengths to ensure that physical distancing is respected. By their very nature, it is easier to regulate a ticketed indoor event than an outdoor space open to all.

Perhaps this explains why, unlike previous demonstrations that have ostracised many and become synonymous with more hardline “anti-vaxxers,” Sunday’s protest was supported by a broad spread of society and the tacit acceptance of authorities.

What do you think of the decision? Let @OrlandoWhitehe6 know.

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