Pictures showing Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden sporting indoors, which is forbidden for the general public under current coronavirus fighting measures, have provoked criticism.
On Sunday, Verlinden participated in a physical selection test of the Federal Police for aspiring officers in a sports hall in Ghent, which sparked outrage from people pointing out that this is still against the rules.
“Thousands of young people have not been allowed to do gymnastics or play volleyball for months. I fully understand that the police have to carry out tests. That a minister wants to do a bit of PR in the current circumstances, I do not understand,” one professor at the University of Ghent said on Twitter.
- ‘Relaxations could be made sooner in Flanders if vaccination rollout is quicker,' Jambon says
- Belgium is on the right track, says Vandenbroucke
- A year of lockdowns has left young athletes out of shape and out of practice, experts worry
Some people questioned why the test couldn’t take place outdoors, saying that the weather was nice enough for it to have been done in the open air.
According to Nathalie Adam, who is responsible for recruitment at the Federal Police, if the weather conditions allow it, the tests are usually done outside, “but if we only have ten people at the start, there is enough room in our sports hall for everything to run safely."
Others, including owners of indoor sports facilities and coaches of youth sports teams, argued that the minister was lacking empathy, and proved that it was one rule for her and one for others.
“So the government is allowed to organise this, but I, as a personal trainer in a space of 100m2 allowing one person at a time with distance, have been closed since October?” said one Twitter user.
The test was done in a safe way, Verlinden's spokeswoman Marie Verbeke told De Morgen, adding that she would not comment further on the outcry.
"The original police test is actually a functional course, which takes place indoors. That consists of different obstacles and devices, but they cannot be disinfected sufficiently,” Adam said.
“That is why we have found a safe alternative in the beep test. Only ten candidates are admitted and they all have to walk in separate lanes. After each session everything is disinfected and only then can new candidates start. The proposal has been approved by our prevention council”, she added.
Verlinden’s tweet reads: “In Ghent, a coronavirus-safe beep test took place today. Candidates who dream of a career with our police can prepare themselves for the selection tests this way. I participated and encouraged the participants.” Lauren Walker The Brussels Times
In Gent vond vandaag een coronaveilige beep test plaats. Kandidaten die dromen van een carrière bij de politie kunnen zich zo voorbereiden op de selectieproeven. Ik deed mee en stak de deelnemers een hart onder de riem. @Federalepolitie ➡️ https://t.co/SEwh3bAfS7 pic.twitter.com/Nkq3NpW0PE— Annelies Verlinden (@AnneliesVl) April 24, 2021