Two top Flemish officials caught flouting coronavirus rules in restaurant
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Two top Flemish officials caught flouting coronavirus rules in restaurant

© Belga

Belgium’s former interior minister and a top Flemish politician were caught sharing a meal together in a restaurant, in violation of the country’s coronavirus rules.

Last week a Twitter user snapped photos of Former Interior Minister Pieter De Crem sharing a meal in an empty hotel restaurant with Joachim Coens, who until recently led efforts to create a new federal government as royal informateur.

The pair were in violation of the latest coronavirus rules imposed at the federal level, which shut down all restaurants except for takeaway. Hotel restaurants were allowed to stay open but only allowed to serve guests staying at the hotel.

Photos of the De Crem and Coens sharing lunch spread on Twitter, prompting many users to call out the pair,  both members of the ruling CD&V party, for bending the rules that other Belgians were urged to strictly follow.

“Our politicians do not seem convinced with the measures,” one user wrote. “Seen yesterday in a Brussels restaurant, De Crem and Coens having lunch together. Wine included. No distance.”

Coens apologised in a radio interview on Monday, saying that they had entered the hotel restaurant through a back door and that eating there was “stupid.”

“There is a picture of it, I am not denying anything. It’s stupid, but we ate there,” he said, HLN reports. “It was completely wrong, it will not happen again”

Coens said that the CD&V party headquarters is located close to the hotel and that, instead of going there, they should have ordered take-out and eaten at the office.

“The restaurant was empty and there was absolutely no problems with regards to safety,” he said, adding: “Actually, we used a back door that should not be used at all and certainly not by us. Politicians have to stick to the rules and be even more strict with themselves than with others.”

“I try to respect the rules as much as possible like so many Flemish and Belgians and, in that sense, what we did was absolutely not good,” Coens added.

Gabriela Galindo
The Brussels Times