‘Have respect for lifeguards,’ Decaluwé says as Belgian bathing season starts
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‘Have respect for lifeguards,’ Decaluwé says as Belgian bathing season starts

Credit: IKWV

The bathing areas in all coastal municipalities will open from 15 June onwards, following an official kick-off event for the reopening of the Belgian bathing season in Wenduine, De Haan.

As the Intercommunal Coastal Rescue Service West Flanders (IKWV) kicked off the start of the season, Governor of West-Flanders Carl Decaluwé called for respect for the more than 1,400 lifeguards at sea after last summer’s riots at Blankenberge between police and citizens, which resulted in the town being closed off to people for day trips.

“When lifeguards give instructions, it is not to bully people. Listen to them,” Decaluwé said, according to reports from Het Nieuwsblad.

He added that “coastal rescuers have a hard enough time as it is, they know their job and the dangers,” and that it is not easy for them in the given circumstances, referring to the coronavirus crisis and ongoing pandemic.

Decaluwé also urged the coastal mayors, who were present during As the Intercommunal Coastal Rescue Service West Flanders (IKWV) kicked off the start of the season, Governor of West-Flanders Carl Decaluwé called for respect for the more than 1,400 lifeguards at sea after last summer’s riots at Blankenberge between police and citizens, which resulted in the town being closed off to people for day trips.  event, to vaccinate the lifeguards as quickly as possible, a subject which has been at the centre of discussions in recent weeks.

“When they have to rescue someone, the rescuers can hardly keep 1.5 metres distance. Vaccination is important for their health,” Decaluwé explained.

This argument was backed by Daphné Dumery, president of the IKWV and mayor of Blankenberge, who said that last summer, almost 600 interventions were carried out along the 67-kilometre-long coast, whilst almost 1,100 lost children were also helped.

From the coast inward

Inland, another four open-air bathing spots will be opened in Flanders.

Until last year, swimming in open water was permitted at 70 beaches and 47 inland pools of water in the region, however, four additional locations will be added in 2021, according to Flemish Minister of Environment Zuhal Demir and Flemish Minister of Sports Ben Weyts.

“The warm, now even hot summers are increasing the demand for swimming in open water. Our cabinets have started an exercise to see where swimming might already be possible this summer in the form of a few ‘trial locations,” Demir said in a press release last month.

The locations of the new bathing spots are unknown.

In Wallonia, another four swimming locations will be added as well, bringing the number of open bathing areas in the region to 27.

The new sites are: lac de Bambois, located in Fosses-la-Ville, from the bathing site from the Canal Plage to the Maison du canal de l’Espierres in Leers-Nord and Wallonie Picarde and from the swimming area of ​​Neufchâteau.

An analysis of the bathing spots in the region will continue this summer 2021 on nine other sites with a view to opening new bathing areas in the coming years.