Fines of €350 for walking around shirtless in Belgian coastal town

Fines of €350 for walking around shirtless in Belgian coastal town
Tourists play in water while enjoying the sun shining on the beach of Knokke. Credit: Belga / Lieven Van Assche

Despite the heatwave, walking around with a bare torso in the Belgian coastal municipality of Knokke-Heist will be punished with a fine of up to €350, mayor Piet De Groote announced on Thursday.

Knokke-Heist is preparing for "a real rush of people" as the temperatures are said to reach 35°C this weekend, with over 20,000 people expected to try to find some coolness at the beach.

"Second-home owners know the rules of the game in Knokke-Heist, but that is not always true for day-trippers," De Groote told Het Nieuwsblad. "They are in a holiday mood and in good spirits, but they often forget that you have to stick to the rules here."

It does not concern any new measures, but the mayor wanted to draw additional attention to them now that the temperatures are rising.

Bare torsos, littering, speeding in noisy cars, bothering other people or washing in the public fountains are "just not done" in Knokke-Heist. "Communication and awareness remain important. We will inform every visitor properly. That is why we are running another campaign."

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Working students hand out flyers at the train station and at tram and bus stops, and signs in the streets have to make people aware of local etiquette. On the beach, there are large warning signs. "Bare torsos in the streets or dog poop and music boxes on the beach: it is just not done."

Currently, Belgium is officially in its hottest week of 2022, as the country is going through the first real heatwave this year – with temperatures expected to peak at 35°C this weekend.

Flanders has issued a 'code red' for wildfire risks, and numerous sectors across the country have also taken extra measures, from collecting waste an hour earlier over extra breaks for supermarket staff to handing out ice cream to construction workers.

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