The recent snowfall in Luxembourg province has attracted thousands of visitors over the Christmas period, and police have now asked the public to stay away.
The sudden rush was foreseeable. With tight restrictions in place over Christmas on people coming together, it was certain that the first opportunity would see people flocking to the outdoors in their masses.
And so it was: already early in the day there were long traffic jams on the roads to Baraque Michel and Signal de Botrange, and car parks were full.
“There are thousands of visitors on the plateau,” Jean-Michel Spontin of the Hautes Fagnes-Eifel natural park told the RTBF.
“It is true that the view is beautiful with all that snow, but when visitors come here, they end up in a traffic jam. The idyllic image that one envisions is not quite what you see when you get here.”
“During this holiday period, while many families have decided not to go abroad because of the health crisis, many of them have chosen our region to walk, relax and enjoy nature,” explained Daniel Stoffels, mayor of Waimes.
“Cars are parked, sometimes illegally, on both sides of the road, over a stretch of about 14 kilometres.” Police were asked to intervene, and parking fines were handed out.
And with snow forecast for the night of Saturday to Sunday, a similar influx is expected today, despite police advice to stay away.
“As on Saturday, the police will be present on location and will do what is necessary to prevent offences and to give advice to the public turned away,” Stoffels said. “The vast majority of people out walking are families. There is no illegal gathering and the distances between groups are well respected.”
Nevertheless, road barriers will be installed at the top of the ski piste at Ovifat, to discourage those who have come to sled down the slope.
“Skiing is prohibited so as to avoid gatherings, so it is necessary to ensure that dozens of families do not gather around the ski slope to enjoy the joys of skiing and to practice tobogganing,” the mayor explained.
On Saturday the federal police issued the following statement on Twitter:
“We advise everyone who was planning to go to the Hautes Fagnes tomorrow (Baraque Michel, Signal de Botrange) to postpone this until another time. Since this morning there has been an abundance of visitors and the car parks and motorways are completely saturated. #Roadsafety