November 30, 2021

Taylor Daily Press

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Municipalities cancel events and the cultural sector is holding its breath...

Municipalities cancel events and the cultural sector is holding its breath…

Due to the high numbers of corona, some municipalities have decided to limit or eliminate events. The cultural sector is watching sadly.

The local hospital’s intensive care department is full, so Mayor Piet De Groote (GB) of Knokke-Heist will hold back public life until November 30. All indoor activities are canceled for everyone from the age of 13. The council also calls on residents to postpone private initiatives.

Joris Hendrikx (CD&V), the mayor of Houthulst in West Flanders, also addressed his residents with a video message this weekend. Municipal events have been cancelled.

People in the cultural sector look at him sadly. “Oh no, not again: that’s how it feels,” says Catherine Vermeer of Sound of Silence, the sector advocacy campaign. For the third time in two years we feel like our diaries are quietly emptying. Do we have to be bill children again?

Even without imposed cancellations, the onset of the fourth wave can already be felt. “We work with clenched buttocks, because we notice that people are reluctant to buy tickets,” Vermeer says. But there is no need for that. Even before vaccinations, we already had protocols in place to organize everything safely. But of course it doesn’t help for mayors to take matters into their own hands. That may be well-intentioned, but it could have a ripple effect.

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With an average of 7,200 infections and 170 hospitalizations per day, the Corona numbers are still rising. Many mayors are closely watching the development of the situation. “There are indications that additional measures will be necessary in our city,” says the mayor of Vilford, Hans Pont (Vorwett). In Ostend, Bart Tomlin (Open VLD) will hold his security cell again on Tuesday for the first time since the relaxation period. “The first task is to ensure adequate compliance with existing measures.”

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The previous edition of the Festival of Light, planned in Ghent next weekend, attracted more than 800,000 visitors. “We are constantly watching and taking measures if the situation changes,” says Philippe Watteau (Groen) of Ghent City Council.

“We do not rule out the possibility of canceling events in other places,” the Flemish Association of Cities and Municipalities said. But Flemish Prime Minister Jan Jambon (N-VA) is asking mayors not to participate in an auction. “Every municipality should consider its local situation and avoid making drastic decisions.” At the supranational level, “a new shutdown is now completely out of the question.”