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Belgium in Brief: Brussels’ Fake Festival

Credit: Belga/Twitter

Have you ever pulled an April Fools’ prank that didn’t go the way you planned?

Yesterday’s definitely went worse.

“La Boum,” a fake festival in Brussels’ Bois de la Cambre, was announced as an obvious joke “with eight stages, a hundred DJs and zero coronavirus rules.”

However, that didn’t stop up to 2,000 people from gathering in the park to dance, drink, and party, not respecting the social distance rules, and most of them without face masks.

According to the official figures on Friday morning, the joke that got out of hand resulted in at least 26 injured officers, over 20 arrests, and several damaged police vehicles.

Many of those present – mostly young people – declared that they were fed up with the measures, and wanted to experience some freedom after missing out on a year of events and meeting up with friends.

Belgium’s Interior Affairs Minister, however, called it “a slap in the face for all those who are doing their best to respect the coronavirus measures” and expert stressed that “it is still far too early for this.”

What do you think?

Let @johnstonjules know on Twitter. (Or @maithechini, since she wrote it today.)

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Belgium in Brief is a free daily roundup of the top stories to get you through your lunch break conversations. To receive it straight to your inbox every day, sign up below:

1. De Croo counts on speedy handling of Belgium’s pandemic law

The federal government is counting on its pandemic law being passed through parliament quickly, so as not to jeopardise the verdict of a Brussels court, which gave the government 30 days to provide a sound legal basis for the coronavirus measures.

On Wednesday afternoon, the government announced that it would appeal against the ruling from earlier that same day, which stated that Belgium had to lift all coronavirus measures within 30 days, with a €5,000 penalty for every day of delay. Read more.

2. What can (and can’t) you do in Belgium during the Easter break?

The Easter holidays this year officially take place between Saturday 3 and Sunday 18 April, however, they started one week earlier for school pupils, after the Consultative Committee decided to close schools and suspend classes in Belgium from Friday 26 March.

Although the weather isn’t expected to be as nice as during this period last year, the government has imposed fewer restrictions on travel, meeting people outdoors, and various activities. Read more.

3. Revealed: EU target for full vaccination by July ‘impossible’ say ambassadors

The EU’s target of having all adults vaccinated by the end of the second quarter is ‘impossible’ to reach, according to a confidential document drawn up by EU ambassadors and leaked to Bloomberg. Read More.

4. Thousands party in Brussels Bois de la Cambre as April Fools’ joke gets out of hand

Riot police were deployed to disperse crowds in Brussels’ Bois de la Cambre on Thursday afternoon after thousands of people showed up to “La Boum,” a fake festival that was announced as an April Fools’ joke.

Photos and videos on social media show large crowds of young people dancing and partying, many without face masks or respecting the social distance rules. Read more.

In the meantime, Interior Affairs Minister Annelies Verlinden called the gathering “a slap in the face for all those who are doing their best to respect the coronavirus measures.” Read more about that here.

5. Car parks make way for terraces this summer in Brussels

The Brussels-Capital Region will allow outdoor cafés on car parks until the end of 2022, according to a press release from the office of State Secretary for Urban Planning Pascal Smet.

The Brussels Government has approved Smet’s proposal to simplify the regulations on catering terraces so that restaurant owners can easily install a terrace on the parking spaces in front of their doors. Read More.

6. Scrap laws against sex work, says justice minister

Sex work should be removed from the criminal law in Belgium, to help sex workers escape from the clutches of international criminal gangs, according to federal justice minister Vincent Van Quickenborne (Open VLD).

Sex work is rarely prosecuted as such in Belgium, but it remains a criminal offence. That is not only hypocritical, but also dangerous, he said. “Being in a grey zone, the door is wide open to abuse, pimps and forced prostitution.” Read More.

7. De Wever takes up arms for contested Antwerp Hands

Bart De Wever is the president of the Flemish nationalist party N-VA, as well as the mayor of Antwerp, but that doesn’t mean he has no time to take to social media to defend confectionery.

The issue concerns the Antwerps Handjes, or Antwerp Hands, sold in all bakery and souvenir shops in the port city, and consisting of a bite-sized representation in pastry or chocolate of a human hand. Read More.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times

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