scorecardresearch
Follow Us:
Wednesday, January 26, 2022

‘No culture, no future’: Belgian artists decry virus rules

After almost two years of forced closures and limited openings, the culture sector had hoped its efforts, including special air quality meters in halls, separated seats and limited visitor capacities, would allow it to escape the brunt of the virus restrictions.

By: AP | Brussels |
December 28, 2021 12:00:22 pm
Belgium artists, Belgium Omicron, Belgium pandemic restrictionsTwo artists wear masks as they participate in a demonstration of people in the arts in Brussels. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

Thousands of Belgian performers, cinema operators, event organizers and others joined together Sunday to protest the government’s decision to close down the country’s cultural life to stem the spread of the surging omicron variant.

Waving posters reading “The show must go on” or “No culture, no future,” the crowd demonstrated peacefully despite the pouring rain, accusing the government of unfairly targeting the culture industry with the new virus restrictions.

Under the measures, which took effect Sunday, events like Christmas markets are allowed to continue, despite their boisterous, chaotic gluhwein (mulled wine) parties, and restaurants and bars are allowed to stay open with some new restrictions.

Belgium artists, Belgium Omicron, Belgium pandemic restrictions Belgian performers, cinema operators, event organizers and others joined together to protest the government’s decision to close down the country’s cultural life to stem the spread of the surging omicron virus variant. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

Even the scientific committee advising the Belgian government had not asked for the culture industry closures, leaving virologist Marc Van Ranst to ponder that in Belgium “gluhwein beat culture.”

Scores of movie theaters and other venues disregarded the closure order, according to state broadcaster RTBF.

A brass band accompanied Sunday’s demonstration at the Mont des Arts in Brussels, the symbolic spot which spawned Belgian independence in 1830, and prominent cultural figures took to the stage to air their grievances. Organizers urged participants to wear masks and maintain social distancing. Authorities estimated 5,000 people took part and it ended peacefully.

Belgium artists, Belgium Omicron, Belgium pandemic restrictions A person holds a sign which reads ‘Give us a seat at the theatre’ as they protest with other artists during a demonstration in Brussels. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

Under the new rules, indoor public activities are strictly limited, shopping is curtailed and sports fans won’t be allowed into stadiums and indoor venues. The Belgian government shied away, however, from a full lockdown like that imposed in the neighboring Netherlands for the holiday season.

After almost two years of forced closures and limited openings, the culture sector had hoped its efforts, including special air quality meters in halls, separated seats and limited visitor capacities, would allow it to escape the brunt of the virus restrictions.

The Belgian measures come despite a steady decline in COVID-19 hospital admissions in recent weeks. The government said the fast transmission of the omicron variant made it necessary to take preventive measures.

📣 For more lifestyle news, follow us on Instagram | Twitter | Facebook and don’t miss out on the latest updates!

📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines

For all the latest Lifestyle News, download Indian Express App.

  • Newsguard
  • The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.
  • Newsguard
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement