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Belgium will create rules for post-lockdown protests

© Belga

The National Security Council (NSC) will issue guidelines to ensure demonstrations and protest marches can go forward without breaking coronavirus rules.

The new rules for protesting in the aftermath of the coronavirus lockdown will be made public “in the coming days,” according to a statement by the prime minister’s cabinet.

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The news followed a meeting between Brussels Mayor Philippe Close and Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès which came after the former was fiercely criticised for allowing a massive Black Lives Matter demonstration to go forward on Sunday.

“Just like the NSC addressed the conditions for the restart of social, cultural and economic activities, it will outline, in the coming days, prospects (…) to align freedom of expression with the sanitary and public order imperatives,” the statement read.

In the statement, the prime minister also said that the cause defended by the protesters was never the subject of questioning, echoing previous statements made ahead of the demonstration, as she urged for alternative ways of protesting the cause.

The protest on Sunday saw some 10,000 protesters fill Place Poelaert on Sunday, drawing criticism from politicians who accused Close of disregarding lockdown rules.

In a reaction to the protest, several state virologist also said that the protest risked causing a new flare-up of the virus, with one urging attendants to strictly observe sanitary rules for at least 15 days.

The demonstration, during which organisers hired stewards and handed out free face masks, came as federal leaders green-lighted the reopening of bars, restaurants and cafés, following weeks of continuous relaxation of lockdown measures as Belgium races to restart the economy.

Gabriela Galindo
The Brussels Times