Alexander Dumarey

Ostend has a plan for the summer

Bart Tommelein, the Mayor of Ostend, had a difficult task last night: to explain why he didn’t want everybody to rush to visit his city when corona restrictions are relaxed.  Tourism is the main industry in our premier seaside resort, but the mayor is determined to keep it safe for residents and visitors.

“We have a plan and that is an important start” Mr Tommelein told VRT TV.  The first priority will be safety in the main shopping streets.  Sensors will anonymously count the number of people gathering in the main shopping streets and screens will advise people when it is getting too busy and urge them to return later.  Pedestrians will have to keep to the right in shopping streets and all walk in the same direction to allow people to maintain social distancing.  Areas will also be set aside to allow people to wait before they enter a shop so that it doesn’t get too crowded".

“We now have the opportunity to test the system with local residents.  Trips to the coast are not yet allowed. We want to get everything ready for the summer and can always make changes if need be.”

“A similar system will probably also be required on the promenade and on the beach to keep it safe.  Not everybody will be able to come to the same place at the same time.  We’ve proposed allowing people with holiday homes to be able to visit starting 18 May with day trippers allowed to make the journey from 8 June onwards, but that of course needs to be confirmed.”

Mr Tommelein was speaking before the security council put back a decision on holiday homes until a later date.

James Arthur Photography

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