Controversial measures enter into force, cultural sector to take legal action

Controversial measures enter into force, cultural sector to take legal action
Credit: Belga

Four days after the last consultative committee meeting, the new health measures come into force this Sunday but face a strong sense of iniquity from people working in the cultural sector, Belga news agency reports.

Faced with a surge of the Omicron variant, the consultative committee which brings together the federal government and the federated entities decided on Wednesday to tighten the health measures.

As of this Sunday and until 28 January, all shops must limit the number of customers in their stores at any given time to ensure at least 10m2 for each person in their premises. A distance of 1.5m must also be guaranteed between customers, while shoppers are invited to do their shopping alone, or maximum with one other person (except for members of the same household).

Sports training and competitive games at all levels (except those involving minors) must be held without audience. Sports facilities such as swimming pools or sports halls can stay open.

Some indoor spaces will need to shut. Besides cinemas, casinos, betting halls, laser games, bowling alleys, paintball, dart and billiard halls will have to be closed.

The decision to keep cinemas closed has caused a real outcry from the sector which sees it as an unfair and unjustified measure, especially as it was not even recommended by the GEMS – the group of experts advising the government on how to manage the pandemic.

As a result, several cinemas, theatres and cultural centres in the country have announced that they will defy the closure order, even if it means they’ll be fined. However, penalties are not expected to be numerous. Several mayors have said they will not ask their police to check on the venues according to Belga, and a spokesperson from Brussels-Ixelles police zone, Ilse Van de Keere said on Saturday that they did not have time to check the cinemas.

A demonstration is planned on Sunday afternoon at the Mont des Arts in Brussels. The cultural sector’s protest is also expected to take legal action. Several operators, supported by the Belgian League of Human Rights announced on Friday that they would take the matter to the supreme administrative court.

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