Nobody can now sit on the benches after local police used police tape to cordon them off. A police spokesman defended their actions, but the move has triggered a furious reaction from local people including many seniors. Many residents say that the benches are one of the few places in the locality where local people can enjoy a breath of fresh air.
Community leader Nico Volckeryck: “In this area 30% of the homes are social housing without a garden or a terrace. It’s true there were problems with seniors gathering for a drink and not complying with corona measures, but at the same time you see lots of people drinking a coffee and social distancing. By cordoning off the seating all residents are being hit!”
Local activists believe the police or social workers should deal with the people causing the problems. “We can’t cordon off the entire City of Antwerp to prevent people causing a nuisance. If these benches remain off-limits the problem will simply shift” Paul Struyf added.