Easter weekend draws dozens to Flemish outdoors despite coronavirus lockdown
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Easter weekend draws dozens to Flemish outdoors despite coronavirus lockdown

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The Easter weekend saw dozens of people in Flanders come out to enjoy the good weather, with several police zones reporting a rise in lockdown violations.

Queues were reported outside ice cream shops throughout Flanders, including in Kortrijk and in Lanaken, a town in Limburg, one of Belgium’s hardest-hit provinces.

“I stopped here with my wife and child after a bike ride,” one Lanaken resident told HLN. “The two of them are inside, I’m waiting outside on the other side of the street.”

Speaking to the outlet, two women who also came for a scoop in Lanaken said that there was “nothing wrong” because people kept their distance.

“We are from around here so we came by foot, everyone is keeping a good distance so I don’t think there’s anything wrong, this is perfectly possible,” one said.

Police in Lanaken have reportedly not yet handed out any written reports but they “pass by regularly to keep an eye on things,” HLN wrote.

In an interview ahead of the weekend, Geert Meyfroidt, head of the Belgian Society of Intensive Care Medicine, expressed concern that residents were becoming lax about the lockdown measures.

“I have the subjective impression that I see more people on the street, and that they are getting closer,” Meyfroidt said. “I hope that we will not see the consequences of this in the foreseeable future.”

“Pleasant crowds” were also spotted outside the local ice cream parlour, according to one Twitter user posting from the student city of Leuven.

In Kortrijk, despite an announcement put up on a local mall’s shopfront reading: “We hope no one read this,” dozens of people were photographed out on a bike ride or a stroll.

Queues were spotted outside waffle and ice cream parlours and photos showed people enjoying a snack in some of the city’s squares.

As cyclists, hikers and joggers also flocked to the outdoors, in reports which also come as transport companies report a rise in trips that are suspected as being non-essential.

In East Flanders, police in the town of Wetteren closed off a small alleyway as a “multitude of hikers” passing by meant that social-distancing rules could no longer be applied.

In Antwerp, the Flemish Road and Traffic said that a lot of people still continued to use the city’s Kennedy bicycle tunnel connecting the city’s two riverbanks. “Stay on your own bank, unless you need the tunnel for an essential reason,” the traffic agency wrote on social media.

Gabriela Galindo
The Brussels Times