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Belgian mayors urged to keep terraces closed until 8 May

Credit: Belga

Reacting to news that several mayors would reopen their terraces before 8 May, Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden called on all local authorities to respect the Consultative Committee’s decisions.

The announcement that the reopening of the hospitality sector would initially be limited to its terraces, and only from 8 May instead of the initially announced 1 May date, led to a number of complaints, from the sector and mayors alike.

“With yesterday’s measures, we have sought a balance. From 8 May, more will be possible, especially outdoors,” Verlinden tweeted.

“We call on everyone with responsibility, including local authorities, to respect the measures,” she added. “This is the only way to limit the spread of the virus.”

Some mayors, like Jean-Marie Dedecker of the coastal town of Middelkerke, stated that they are tired of waiting, while others already made it clear that they no longer have the means to prevent certain owners from opening their businesses.

The governor of West-Flanders, Carl Decaluwé, already made it clear that Dedecker does not have the right to go against the decisions of the Consultative Committee, adding that “if he chooses to tolerate terraces that are open against that decision, there is no other option than federal intervention.”

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In Wallonia, Minister of Local Government Christophe Collignon called on the Region’s mayors to consult with bar and restaurant owners on their territory to make sure the reopening can happen under the best possible conditions.

“I understand that the mayors are under pressure. The population is tired and there is a lot of pressure on them,” Collignon told the Belga news agency.

According to him, the municipalities should take advantage of the week between 1 and 8 May to consult with the owners of bars and restaurants.

“We need to do things to figure out how to set up the scheme with the local authorities,” Collignon said. “The role of a mayor is not to throw oil on the fire and call for civil disobedience.”

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times

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