Not to the coast, ‘own residents first’ in parks: where no …


Heat and the corona virus don’t mix well. People look to cool off en masse on the coast or in swimming ponds. But that goes wrong: there are riots and fights, or there are too many people. The doors close, or only ‘own’ residents are allowed in. Where should the rest go?

Recreation domain Nieuwdonk is still open until Thursday. Too many people declined, it became unsafe, according to mayor Katja Gabriëls. Since the end of July, the Netepark in Herentals has only been accessible to its own residents and those of the peripheral municipalities. The swimming area ‘de Plas’ in the recreation area ‘Ter Heide’ has also been accessible only to residents of Rotselaar since the end of June. The domain is now temporarily closed due to blue-green algae.

Today, the mayor of Rijkevorsel, Dorien Cuylaerts, introduced a space ban for the Kievitsheide Municipal Forest for anyone who does not live in the municipality. Visitors who, according to Cuylaerts, came from the province of Antwerp left rubbish behind and lit fires there. The mayor would rather see them stay in their own ‘red zone’, and therefore ban visitors who do not live in Rijkversol from the area. Fine: 350 euros.

The swimming pond of the recreation park ‘De Plas’ in Houthalen-Helchteren is then closed again until Friday, due to a scuffle between a man and a number of young people.

Many provincial recreation areas have a reservation system and a strong restriction on the number of allowed swimmers and visitors, in order to be able to respect the distance rules. In addition, the coastal mayors would rather not see day trippers, especially young people in a group. The fight in Blankenberge last weekend has contributed to this, among other things. The NMBS is therefore scrapping part of the train service to the sea.

Looking to cool down is a challenge. Mayors discourage people from coming to the coast. Recreational areas raise the barriers by limiting the number of visitors, only allowing their own residents or even closing the doors. And although the heatwave is coming to an end, the holidays are not over yet. Sunday will be sunny and warm again.


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