Residents of Brussels' most densely populated areas can venture into another municipality for a walk during the coronavirus lockdown, Minister-President Rudi Vervoort said.
The leader of the Brussels-Capital Region's comments come after a resident from Molenbeek was told by police in Brussels' Grand-Place that they had to turn back around.
"Brussels residents who live in densely populated areas where there is little greenery can certainly get a breath of fresh air in green areas or parks in another municipality," Vervoort told Bruzz on Monday.
Belgium last week introduced lockdown measures aiming to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic which shut down virtually all aspects of public life including by asking citizens to only go outside for "essential reasons."
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The directives nevertheless said that outdoor physical activity was still allowed, a measure that has sparked confusion among the public and prompted officials to clarify what the rules meant in practice.
Police in Brussels also said Vervoort's statements provided some much-needed clarity on the rules.
"We were informed that residents should only be allowed to go near their place of residence," spokesperson Ilse Van de Keere said. "'Nearby' is, of course, open to interpretation — a 5-kilometre walk is not a long walk for me, but for others, it is. In any case, it is clear now."
On Monday, after police in Brussels announced they had drawn up hundreds of reports and issued fines to citizens and businesses who did not respect the measures, the municipality of Forest said it would no longer allow people to sit around on the grass in Parc du Forest.
A spokesperson for Vervoort's cabinet nevertheless urged Brussels residents to "use their common sense."
"The goal is not to have people in Brussels going across the region for a walk in their favourite place," spokesperson Zeynep Balci said. "The Region, therefore, trusts the people of Brussels will comply with what we communicate and that the safety rules are respected."
"If not, the policy will become stricter," she added.
The Brussels Times