The Council of State in Belgium has suspended a government-ordered closure of the cultural sector in the country, finding that new restrictions imposed on cinemas and theatres because of Covid-19 are unreasonable.
The government had ordered that cinemas, concert halls and arts centres were obliged to shut their doors, beginning Sunday. Local reports suggest some venues opened in protest, angered that the restriction was ordered despite a scientific committee advising the government that attendance at the cultural centres did not increase risk to public health.
The Belgian Council of State, after an emergency hearing, ruled that the restrictions were “not proportionate”, and that the state did not provide sufficient evidence to “understand why going to cultural sector performance venues was particularly dangerous for public health”.
The Council is an advisory body that has legal powers to overturn government decisions it considers unlawful.
Cultural representatives including actors, performers and cinema operators, described the restrictions as baseless, unfair and disproportionate.
Thousands attended protests opposing the closure of the country’s cultural sector ahead of the ruling.
Belgium protest against covid mandates pic.twitter.com/15ES4F2xSC
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Under the restrictions, restaurants and bars stayed open with some limitations, and Christmas markets continued.