Busy scenes on Brussels Market Square and in Bruges on Saturday evening
It was just what the authorities and the scientists didn’t want to see. Large numbers of people gathered both on Brussels central market square the Grote Markt and in the streets of the historic West Flemish city of Bruges. In Brussels people had gone into town to see the Christmas tree, while in Bruges a festival of light that started this weekend drew crowds into the city centre. Virus experts, the Flemish Prime Minster and the mayors of both Bruges and Brussels have all expressed their concerns.
In Brussels people flocked to the city’s central market square in their droves to see the Christmas tree and a light show that is being projected onto to the square’s historic buildings. A large number of extra police were drafted in to ensure that the rules on the wearing of face coverings and social distancing were upheld.
The Brussels police spokesman Olivier Slosse told VRT News that "We are looking into taking additional measures during the coming days and weeks. We are looking for ways to control the flow of people and to ensure that there is always enough space to ensure social distancing."
"This will include controlling access to the Grote Markt, talking to people and issuing fines where necessary. It will be a range of measures that will be discussed during the coming days and weeks. Of course, we need to avoid creating bottlenecks at other locations with people standing too close together”.
The Mayor of Brussels Philippe Close (Francophone socialist) responded on Twitter. "There are a lot of people in the centre of Brussels this evening. Unfortunately, too many people at once”.
Big crowds in Bruges for Wintergloed light show
It was also very busy in the centre of Bruges on Saturday evening. Although the Wintergloed light festival runs until 10 January a large number of people felt the urge to go and visit it all at once on Saturday evening. There were traffic jams on routes into the city centre. The Mayor of Bruges Dirk De fauw (Christian democrat) issued an appeal to people not to all visit the festival at once. “We are asking people not all to come during the weekend. The festival of last lasts for more than 40 days”.
The Bruges police spokeswoman told VRT News that police had turned away cars to prevent even more people from gathering in the city centre.
Mayor De fauw is met with the festival organisers today. “We plan to deploy extra stewards and the walking route will probably be slightly modified, making some places one way”, Mr De Fauw told VRT News.
At the meeting it was decided that the festival will not go ahead on Sunday evening (29 november) and on next Friday and Saturday evenings (4 and 5 december).