The situation of students in digs has been an issue of considerable discussion for some time now. Since the start of the lockdown there have been strict limits on household mixing with only one hug buddy per person allowed inside at a time.
But what about students? Most Belgian students in digs are used to going home at the weekend. So their parents’ home was considered to be their household and in digs students were supposed to socially distance.
Flemish education minister Ben Weyts (nationalist) has been calling for the introduction of a “kot or digs bubble” for students in rooms. The matter has now come to a head after 4 Ghent students, who are in digs together, were fined after they were hanging out together one evening on their balcony with a little music playing. Police judged that corona measures were being infringed.
Interior minister Verlinden is unwilling to be drawn on this particular case, but says that the ministerial decree states that all people living together under one roof are to be considered a household. This need not necessarily be a traditional family” says the minister. “Students too can be viewed as a household if they have been living under the same roof since the start of lockdown.”
This means that students in digs have the same rights under corona measures as any household on condition that they don’t go home at the weekend or if they do, act as a hug buddy or socially distance.
“Such students are not allowed to see anybody else including parents and relatives at close quarters unless they have been adopted as a hug buddy” says Verlinden and adds: “There are several interpretations of what a “kot or digs bubble” could involve and that’s a discussion we need to have”.