Hundreds of people stage a party at Flagey when police intervene; virologists disappointed

Hundreds of people flocked to the Flageyplein in Elsene last night, despite a ban for mass events that still applies under corona restrictions. Party-goers were seen flouting social distancing rules without wearing a face mask. In Anderlecht, some 500 people came together for a bonfire before police intervened. Virologist Marc Van Ranst is disappointed: "This is very unwise and it will make others less motivated to respect corona restrictions."

"Last night, we noted a big crowd at Flagey. We are talking about several hundred people," says Ilse Van de Keere of the Brussels police. "We intervened and asked the people to leave the site. This was not easy, because it was obvious they wanted to stay to keep singing and dacing together." (see video below)

The crowd formed around midnight and grew bigger after 1 o'clock in the night, when the cafés and pubs have to close in Belgium under corona restrictions. "In the end, we were busy for several hours because the crowds kept moving." A similar problem took place earlier this week at Flagey. 

Police also intervened in Anderlecht. At 5 o'clock this morning, about 500 people had gathered together, police sources say. A bonfire was held on the street and music was being played. However, the crowd quickly dispersed at the police's request.   

"In China this would be a different story"

Virologist Marc Van Ranst labelled the decision to come together in such big numbers "unwise". "This should not be done in this phase of the epidemic. The virus hasn't gone yet. Last week we had 90 new infections per day on average. And that was only the official number. These figures are higher than in China. In Beijing, big measures would be taken in a similar situation. We want to avoid this here." He calls on police to take prevention measures from now on.

Interior Minister Pieter De Crem (christian democrat) has called on citizens to display more civil solidarity. 

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