Flanders proposes phased plan to restart events in Belgium

Flanders proposes phased plan to restart events in Belgium
Brussels Summer Festival in 2019. Credit: Belga

Flemish Minister for Tourism Zuhal Demir developed the "Event Risk Model" (ERM), a recovery tool for a safe, controlled and phased restart of events, in collaboration with several players in the sector.

"In a society where 'one and a half metres distance' will now be the rule, events will have to take on a completely different form, and will also require completely different preparation," Demir told VTM News on Sunday.

The cornerstone of the relaunch plan is a code of conduct endorsed by the broad event sector, and an Event Risk Model (ERM) on the other, a matrix that maps out the safety risk of an event on the basis of 18 parameters. The code of conduct indicates the security measures and guidelines that can or have to be taken for each type of event.

The tool was developed by the Tourism Minister, the Alliance of Belgian Event Federations, Toerisme Vlaanderen and EventFlanders, and has to enable the safe restart of both large and small events in a controlled and phased manner, Hans Perquy of the Alliance of Belgian Event Federations told Het Laatste Nieuws.

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The aim is to ensure that organisers and local authorities can best assess whether and under what conditions events - "from small street parties to festivals and performances of all kinds" - can take place, he added.

Belgium's Group of Experts for the Expert Strategy (GEES) is studying the tool, which will be made available for free, as soon as the experts give the go-ahead, according to Demir.

However, there is no possible start date yet, Demir said, but she and several colleagues are working out a proposal with the sectors and various virologists. "After all, everything depends on the evolutions of the curve, and the improvement of the figures," she said.

Virologist Marc Van Ranst, who is part of the GEES, said on Sunday that he thinks it could be a useful tool, which could be an international example. "Smaller events can be more dangerous than certain larger events," he said. It could also be used in other sectors such as museums, attractions and sports, among others, said the Alliance of Belgian Event Federations. The coronavirus crisis in Belgium will result in a 54% loss of turnover for the sector in 2020 compared to 2019. Event organisers estimate the loss at €1.3 billion, while suppliers to the event industry expect to lose more than €3.6 billion, according to the Alliance's estimates. On Monday, both the Walloon and Brussels Ministers for Tourism told the Belga press agency that they were in favour of the ERM, but Rudi Vervoort's spokesperson specified that they had not yet received any written document. Maïthé Chini The Brussels Times

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