MailOnline has more.
A Belgian court on Tuesday suspended the closure of concert halls, cinemas and other entertainment venues, a measure announced last week by Prime Minister Alexander De Croo to stem the spread of the Omicron Covid variant.
Under new restrictions that took effect Sunday, movie houses, concert halls and art centres were ordered to shut their doors. Some stayed open in protest.
But the Council of State, Belgium’s highest administrative court, said the authorities have not demonstrated “in what way entertainment venues are particularly dangerous places for (people’s) health… in that they would spread Covid, to the extent necessary to order their closure.”
The Government’s closure order was only announced last week and took effect from Sunday, with the court saying it was “disproportionate”.
It said in a ruling published on Tuesday that, even if the Omicron variant required further restrictions, the Government needed to show why a given measure was needed on public health grounds. The court still needs to make a final ruling.
The order came despite the assessment of the scientific committee advising the Government that going to such places poses no extra risk to public health.
It is not entirely clear what counts as a cultural venue, but it will not include cinemas and other indoor venues, such as for bowling, or night clubs.
The Council of State is an advisory body that has legal powers to overturn Government decisions it considers unlawful.
De Croo’s Government and regional chiefs decided last Wednesday 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 Covid infections continually fall since a late November peak, but Omicron cases are rapidly rising, and now make up over half of all Covid cases.
The suspension of the order came after representatives of Belgian actors, performers and cinema operators launched an appeal against the decision.
The FEAS umbrella association for the sector said the lockdown was baseless, unfair and disproportionate and it, along with several cultural and rights groups, appealed to Belgium’s Council of State, which ruled in their favour.
After meeting on Tuesday with sector representatives, health minister Frank Vandenbroucke told state broadcaster RTBF that “there’s no possibility to immediately revise the (Government’s) decision”.
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