Belgian theatres win court battle to reopen after COVID closures


BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Belgian theatres and different cultural venues received an preliminary authorized victory on Tuesday to reopen after the federal government ordered their closure as a part of coronavirus restrictions to curb a surge in instances of the Omicron variant.

The Council of State, Belgium’s supreme administrative court, suspended the federal government’s closure order that was solely introduced final week and took impact from Sunday, saying it was “disproportionate”.

It mentioned in a ruling revealed on Tuesday that, even when the Omicron variant required additional restrictions, the federal government wanted to present why a given measure was wanted on public well being grounds. The court nonetheless wants to make a remaining ruling.

It shouldn’t be fully clear what counts as a cultural venue, nevertheless it is not going to embrace cinemas and different indoor venues, corresponding to for bowling, or night time golf equipment.

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo’s authorities and regional chiefs determined final Wednesday to shut cinemas and theatres and play sporting fixtures behind closed doorways, whereas permitting bars, eating places, gyms and different indoor sports activities venues to proceed as earlier than.

Belgium, house to European Union establishments and the headquarters of NATO, has seen COVID-19 infections frequently fall since a late November peak, however Omicron instances are quickly rising, and now make up over half of all COVID-19 instances.

(Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

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