Belgium to make U-turn to allow theatres, cinemas to reopen


  • World
  • Wednesday, 29 Dec 2021

FILE PHOTO: A woman holds a banner reading "Silence please" during a demonstration against the Belgian government's restrictions imposed to contain the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Brussels, Belgium December 26, 2021. REUTERS/Johanna Geron/File Photo

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The Belgian government was set to reverse course on Wednesday by allowing theatres to reopen after a court suspended their closure ordered a week ago to try to stem the surge in infections from the Omicron coronavirus variant.

The ruling from the Council of State did not cover cinemas, but the government says they too can reopen because they operate like theatres, with audiences seated and obliged to wear masks and only allowed in with a COVID pass to prove vaccination, a negative test or a recent recovery.

Georges Gilkinet, mobility minister, said in a tweet that the government had agreed to both opening. A final decision will be taken by ministers and regional chiefs later on Wednesday.

Other indoor venues, such as casinos and bowling alleys, will remain closed.

Prime Minister Alexander De Croo's government and regional chiefs decided last week https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/belgium-shut-cinemas-theatres-omicron-cases-surge-2021-12-22 to close cinemas and theatres and play sporting fixtures behind closed doors, while allowing bars, restaurants, gyms and other indoor sports venues to continue as before.

Belgium, home to European Union institutions and the headquarters of NATO, has seen infections fall since a late November peak, but Omicron cases are rapidly rising, and now make up well over half of all COVID-19 cases.

Belgium has recorded 881 cases per 100,000 people over past two weeks, less than half November's peak.

(Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by Alison Williams)

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