The provincial domain Nieuwdonk in Berlare will close its doors from Sunday 9 August to Thursday 13 August. That was decided by Mayor Katja Gabriëls (Open Vld) in consultation with acting governor of East Flanders Didier Detollenaere. Despite the introduced capacity limitation, too many visitors came to the domain, so that too many people gathered in and around the domain on the Donkmeer.
“On Friday, an excessive influx of visitors to the domain was already anticipated by allowing a maximum of 2,000 people,” says Mayor Gabriëls. “On Friday, that maximum capacity was already exceeded, and today / Saturday there was up to 50 percent too many people present. In addition, many visitors ignore corona measures, such as staying in their own bubble or the obligation to wear a mouth mask. The situation was so unmanageable on Saturday that we had to take a drastic decision and close the domain. ”
Acting Governor Didier Detollenaere regrets the closure of the domain. “Especially when you consider the great efforts the provincial services have made to be able to open the domains in safe conditions,” says Detollenaere. “Closing down is the last option for us, but I understand the choice when the security forces cannot guarantee the safety of those present on the domain. We had, however, deployed additional security personnel, but we cannot control what happens outside the domain. ” Mayor Gabriëls says that the Berlare police also received reinforcements from Dendermonde and from the federal police on Saturday. But that was also not enough to maintain the large crowd.
“I hope that the Nieuwdonk domain in Berlare is an isolated case, and that we will not have to close any other domains in East Flanders,” says Detollenaere. “That decision rests with the mayors, and I understand they should do it if the health of the visitors were at stake.” The governor is also strict with the visitors who flout the corona measures. “Everyone has to stick to the rules. I expect the police to take tough action against any form of irresponsible behavior, and not only raise awareness but verbalize it. There is really no question of a tolerance policy. ”