Companies in Flanders should disobey the newly announced measures, according to Flemish group leader of the far-right Vlaams Belang party, Chris Janssens, who argued that the government had broken its promise.
He argued that the decision made by the Consultative Committee on Tuesday to implement the Covid Safe Ticket (CST) in Flanders was a breach of contract between the government and the region’s residents, and that as a result, people should “use their common sense” and revolt against the measures.
“People were told for months that if they behaved and got vaccinated, they would get total freedom in return. What do we see now? 92% of Flemish people followed those rules and have fulfilled their part of the contract, and then the government breaks its promise,” Janssens said on Wednesday during a Villa Poltica interview.
“Now, all these restrictive measures, including the CST as well as the face mask obligation, are being introduced,” he said, adding that there must now be resistance against the unreliability of the government.
He said that, in response, he is advising the hospitality industry and fitness centres, where the use of the CST will be required from 1 November, to “use their common sense, unlike the governments, and not make a distinction between those who are vaccinated and those who are not,” adding that “the government is abusing those who are not vaccinated.”
Janssens’ issue with the CST is that it contradicts Belgium’s stance on vaccination – namely that people have the freedom to choose whether they want to be vaccinated or not.
However, this argument has previously been debunked by politicians, most notably by Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke, who said that the CST gives unvaccinated people other options, as they can also use it to prove they have recently tested negative or recovered from an infection in the past six months.
Janssens, who argued that there is no state of emergency in hospitals – despite the government asking them to free up 25% of intensive care unit beds and postponing non-urgent care – also argued that businesses in the hospitality industry should ignore the face mask obligation for staff.
When looking for a culprit within the government, Janssens specifically pointed the finger of blame at the Flemish nationalist party N-VA for not defending the position of Flemish people during the discussions on Tuesday, arguing that now, they are being punished for the lower vaccination rate in Wallonia and “multicultural Brussels.”
“Why is there not one Flemish nationalist who told Vandenbroucke or Walloon Minister-President Elio Di Rupo that the Flemish have done what was expected and so absolute freedom must be guaranteed as promised,” he said.
In response, N-VA chair Bart De Wever, who had spoken out against the use of CST saying it “created a false sense of protection,” rebuked Janssens’ comments, saying he “hopes that he will pay all the fines of the people he calls upon to disregard the law.”
Both N-VA and Flemish liberal party Open VLD openly opposed the expansion of the CST in Flanders, but finally caved on Tuesday, when faced with the choice between implementing the health pass, or returning to a far-reaching introduction of face masks.
For now, Janssens solution is to ignore the measures imposed on Flanders, and to rely on the Flemish to “use their common sense.”
“Make sure you keep your distance where necessary. But in any case: that promised freedom that was guaranteed to you, we have to hold on to that promise.”