Several thousand people, 5,000 according to the police, demonstrated on Sunday in Brussels to protest against the closure of performance halls imposed by the authorities to stem the spread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.
«No to this stupid decree!», «Unlike finance, culture enriches us», «No culture, no futurePlacards proclaimed in the rally. Some demonstrators wore carnival masks, in a good-natured atmosphere where French-speaking and Dutch-speaking people mingled.
The gathering, under a fine rain, lasted about two hours, at the foot of the Mont des Arts, the museum district of the Belgian capital. The demonstrators dispersed without incident in the middle of the afternoon, according to an AFP journalist.
Perched on a platform, officials of major Brussels cultural institutions, such as the Royal Flemish Theater (KVS) and the La Monnaie opera house, called on politicians to “reconsider»The decision to close theaters from Sunday. This was presented on Wednesday as a precautionary measure against the very contagious variant Omicron.
Yet the 4th wave of the pandemic continues to ebb in Belgium, the absolute numbers of infections have been declining for three weeks, and the experts who advise the government had not recommended at this stage a new turn of the screw for culture despite the situation. strained in hospitals.
Speaking of « inconsistency« Or even »aberration“, Several health experts have publicly denounced this decision, considered all the more surprising as cafes and restaurants can remain open throughout the country under certain conditions.
« Inequality »
«Once again we are deepening inequalities and access to culture», Denounced Virginie Cordier, director of the cultural center La Vènerie, in the Brussels municipality of Watermael-Boitsfort. Others spoke of the importance of keeping cinemas and theaters open.for mental health»Of a population affected by nearly two years of pandemic. « I prefer to feed on culture than to eat at the restaurant. This closure is unfair», Launched to AFP Catherine, a French teacher in her fifties.
Some theaters and many cinemas, especially in Brussels, Namur (center) and Liège (east), have decided to defy the ban by remaining open on Sunday.
Another protest demonstration took place in Liège on Sunday, with several hundred people, according to the Belga news agency.
In announcing the new restrictions on Wednesday, the government said it did not plan to re-assess the situation until early January. No precise date has been given. « Masks, CST (the Belgian health pass, Editor’s note), ventilation, CO2 detectors, air purification, physical distancing etc.« : The world of entertainment has »largely respected the imposed protocols« Protested the Belgian League for Human Rights (LDH) by announcing its intention to take legal action with several associations or federation in the sector.