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“No to an unfair closure”: the cultural world takes to the streets in Belgium

  • Several thousand people have demonstrated in Brussels this Sunday to protest against the closure of the conference rooms. shows imposed by the authorities to stop the Omicron.

  • “A Unlike finance, culture enriches us “,” Without culture, there is no future “, proclaimed the posters in the concentration

Several thousand people have demonstrated in Brussels this Sunday to protest against the closure of the venues imposed by the authorities to stop the spread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus. “No to this stupid decree ! “,” Unlike finance, culture enriches us “,” Without culture, there is no future, “proclaimed the posters in the rally . Some protesters wore carnival masks, in a friendly atmosphere where people who spoke French and Dutch were mixed.

The police, in a provisional count, have calculated that around a thousand people at the start of the rally, not far from the Place Royale , in the museum district of the Belgian capital. But despite the light rain, the crowd was increasingly packed in the early afternoon.

Perched on a platform, officials from the main cultural institutions in Brussels, such as the Royal Flemish Theater (KVS ) and the opera La Monnaie , asked politicians to “reconsider” the decision to close theaters as of this Sunday, a precautionary measure announced on Wednesday against the contagious Omicron variant. However, in Belgium the absolute number of infections has been declining for three weeks and experts advising the government had not recommended at this stage a new turn of the screw for culture despite the situation.

After announcing the new restrictions last Wednesday, the government said it did not plan to reassess the situation until early January, without specifying any date.

Cafes yes, theaters no

Speaking of “inconsistency” or even “aberration”, several health experts have publicly denounced this decision, considered all the more surprising given that cafes and restaurants can remain open throughout the country under certain conditions.

“Once again we are deepening inequalities and access to culture “, denounces Virgine Cordier, director of the cultural center La Vènerie, in the Brussels municipality of Watermael-Boitsfort.

Others have defended the importance of keeping open cinemas and theaters “for mental health” of a population affected by almost two years of pandemic. In Belgium, unlike in Spain, theaters and auditoriums have been closed to the public for a longer time and have only opened as of this season. “I'd rather eat the culture than be congested in the restaurant. This closure is unfair,” Catherine, a French teacher in her fifties, told AFP.

Defy the ban

Some theaters and many cinemas, especially in Brussels, Namur (center) and Liège (east), have decided to defy the ban by staying open on Sunday.

Related news

In Liège there was also a protest demonstration attended by several hundred people this Sunday, according to the Belgian news agency.

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