On April 30th more than 130 venues in the Belgian cities of Brussels and Wallonia opened their doors, breaking government protocols instated due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The venues are hosting events for the general public for nine consecutive days in protest of the restrictions, IQ Magazine reports.
Campaign group Still Standing For Culture is the body behind the protest events which span entire cities and will conclude on May 8th, when government restrictions are eased to allow open-air events with a maximum capacity of 50 individuals.
“We will do this without underestimating the dangerousness of the virus, but we recall that experiments and studies show that the opening of cultural places has only a minimal impact on the contamination curves in the face of the effects attributed to the activities, businesses, shops and services," Still Standing For Culture said in a public statement on its website.
The group insists that social distancing and mask wearing protocols will still be followed at the events.
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“We will do so to refuse that certain sectors of activity and certain categories of the population are the only ones to carry the weight of measures on their shoulders," the statement continues. "And to defend the diversity of places and practices.”
According to Flemish business newspaper Tidj, the Flemish Region is not participating in the protests, citing the fact that the local government had provided a €60 million support package for festival organizers and other industry professionals, artists, and culture workers affected by the pandemic.
That could change, however, if the regional government does not provide a reopening plan by May 11th, when the Consultation Committee reconvenes. Should a plan not come to fruition, the Flemish Region may feel inclined to join the protests.