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Nearly 200 Belgians gather to protest mandatory face masks

Credit: Belga

Nearly 200 people are coming together in Aalter (West Flanders) on Saturday to protest against mandatory face masks.

Wearing face masks in public places – including busy shopping streets, markets and public buildings – is mandatory from Saturday, as was decided during Thursday’s National Security Council.

A group of 190 anti-mask people therefore decided to protest in the commune of Interior Minister Pieter De Crem. “But we will stick to the rules about face masks,” they said.

The protesters, who are not only resisting mandatory face masks but also a second lockdown, are all members of viruswaanzin.be (virus madness), which follows the example of a Dutch protest movement also called Viruswaanzin. The members are coming together for the founding meeting of the Belgian Viruswaanzin, and a few members of the Dutch group will also be present.

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The movement’s founding members include entrepreneurs who fear that a second lockdown would hurt the economy, but also one man who seems not to believe that viruses exist.

Acting Mayor Patrick Hoste isn’t happy about the meeting, “but the law provides for a right to meet, and a right to freedom of expression. If they abide by the measures, we can’t stop them,” he said.

Getting creative with safety rules, the organisation has rented out a hall for a banquet, allowing for 200 people to gather instead of the 50 that are allowed to meet in the context of an association.

“We will follow the rules that the government imposes for public gatherings: keep our distance, and put on a face mask if we have to use the bathroom,” said lawyer Michael Verstraeten.

“We are democrats. Besides, we are limiting the gathering to 190 people. Everyone had to enrol beforehand, and we’re full.”

The Brussels Times

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