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Belgian venues defy indoor ban with events programme

Belgium’s cultural sector has continued its protest against COVID-19 closures as more than 130 venues illegally reopened to the public this week.

The campaign group ‘Still Standing for Culture’ launched the nine-day protest on April 30 and will continue to host concerts, screenings, shows, debates, performances and public rehearsals in Wallonia and Brussels until May 8.

The organisation said that all activities will be carried in accordance with the health protocol, which includes social distancing, mask-wearing and the separation of household bubbles.

The Still Standing for Culture campaign states: “We will do this without underestimating the dangers 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.

“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. And to defend the diversity of places and practices.”

The campaign stated in its announcement of the planned series of events that it chose to make the action public on the eve of a meeting of the Consultation Committee on April 23.

It added: “If, at the end of this meeting, cultural activities are authorised to resume immediately, as we wish, we can therefore welcome you within a legal framework. If, on the contrary, cultural recovery remains conditioned by an arbitrary calendar, by nth test experiments or by epidemiological parameters to which other sectors are not subject, we will maintain our programming.”

The Consultative Committee opted to extend venue closure measures until at least May 31.

Brussels venue Koninklijke Vlaamse Schouwburg (KVS) was the first to schedule several performances with plans to go ahead regardless of restrictions. However, the Belgian government decided to use its programme of events as reopening tests.

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