'It's a crisis, not a holiday': 'enraged doctor' lashes out at park dwellers

'It's a crisis, not a holiday': 'enraged doctor' lashes out at park dwellers
Illustration picture of the Bois de la Cambre, which a doctor on Wednesday said was "packed" with people only hours after citizens were asked to only leave their homes for essential reasons. © Belga

A social media user in Brussels said she was "dumbfounded" at seeing people laying around in parks despite strict confinement measures against the coronavirus pandemic, urging them to stop treating the shutdown as a "holiday."

On Wednesday evening, Clara Loriot shared a photo of Brussels' Bois de la Cambre in which dozens could be seen lounging around in the grass, despite sweeping lockdown measures introduced earlier that day only allowing outings for "essential reasons" or risk a penalty.

While the measures emptied several streets and neighbourhoods of their usual crowds, throngs of people flocked to the parks to enjoy the sun, with similar images seen in the Forest and Duden parks.

"These are NOT holidays and it is not funny, it's a crisis, it's a catastrophe," Loriot said in a Facebook post which she signed: "Clara, an enraged doctor."

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The latest round of measures to curb the coronavirus pandemic nevertheless said that "outdoor physical activity" was still allowed, and even "encouraged," on certain conditions, such as respecting social distancing guidelines.

"I am dumbfounded, this is Bois de la Cambre today, same thing in the streets of Uccle: PACKED as though it was the first sunny Sunday of the holidays," Loriot wrote.

"It was as though the population had only heard the 'you can go out for some air' part of [prime minister] Wilmes' speech, who, in fact, was calling for confinement."

Loriot's message comes as the number of infections in Belgium neared the 1,500 mark on Wednesday and the death toll hit 14, and coincides with a rise in hospitalisations due to the deadly new coronavirus (Covid-19).

"Each day counts, and only confinement can save us," she wrote, citing an exponential infection curve to say that she and her fellow doctors were bracing for "catastrophe this weekend."

On Facebook, Loriot painted a dire picture of the state of hospitals, saying understaffed teams were "already exhausted" and that many workers were "already sick and quarantined."

"Entire floors are being emptied to be transformed into '[Covid-19] halls' and things will only get worse," she wrote, warning: "If we don't go into a total confinement, we will be in this for a lot longer than a month or two."

"You can already scrap your agenda for the whole month of April, maybe even May," she added. "This is a pandemic, not an 'uncool month of March'."

Gabriela Galindo

The Brussels Times

Update: This story has been updated to clarify that the Facebook post - in which Loriot makes the comments and identifies herself as 'an enraged doctor' - has been deleted since posting. 

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