Belgium’s ‘forgotten’ nightclub scene will demonstrate against coronavirus measures
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Belgium’s ‘forgotten’ nightclub scene will demonstrate against coronavirus measures

The Belgian nightclub and event industry will protest in Brussels next week to highlight the plight of their sector, which they say is being put in a chokehold by the coronavirus regulations.

Representatives of the country’s vibrant nightlife are taking their “Sound of Silence” online campaign to the streets next week, calling on supporters to gather in Place Poelaert on 5 September.

Organisers said the sector is currently on track to “die in silence by following the rules that are imposed on us,” which they say will unleash a wave of bankruptcies and lead to “a thousand social disasters.”

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“We have no real help, no recovery date and no salary,” organisers of the demonstration wrote on Facebook. “This is leading us not only to bankruptcy but also to a financial crisis, depression and a total rethinking of our whole lives.”

As of Monday, over 1,000 people on Facebook said they were taking part in the protest and an additional 2,600 said they were interested in attending.

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While bars, restaurants and cafés have been allowed to reopen since June, the country’s bustling nightclubs first fell silent in March, when the nationwide lockdown was imposed, and have kept their doors shut ever since.

Organisers of large parties and other nightlife events have also had to buckle under a wave of cancellations, wiping out the summer agendas of scores of DJs, music performers and other live entertainers.

The goal of the sector’s “Sound of Silence” online campaign launched last week was to raise awareness of the struggles of a sector which they said employs over 80,000 people but has been largely forgotten by government officials.

The leaders of the protest singled out Belgium as the only country who continued to keep their nightlife venues closed while providing what they see as insufficient relief measures.

In an effort to support its famed nightclub and party scene throughout the closures, Berlin’s government released an aid package of up to €25,000.

After allowing to nightclubs and night bars to reopen under certain conditions in June, Spain ordered them to shut down again in mid-August as it sought to quell the emergence of new coronavirus clusters in the country, while in France, the clubbing sector is also at loggerheads with the government over a three-month shut down which they said threatens over 20,000 jobs.

Gabriela Galindo
The Brussels Times