Packed together, drumming and even pushing and pulling, on Friday evening thousands of stranded day trippers tried to take a train at Ostend station. Travelers also tried to slip past the crush barriers by climbing over them and pushing them apart. The situation got so out of hand that the police finally decided to temporarily shut down train traffic so that the crowd could be dispersed first.
After two hours, train traffic was able to resume again. Images circulate on Twitter of how the day trippers play drums against the crush barriers, brace themselves when the police open part of the crush barrier and then sprint to the train, without respecting the distance rules.
On social media, travelers are upset about the irresponsible situation, which is an ideal breeding ground for the spread of the coronavirus. Virologist Marc Van Ranst also learned a lot: ‘Dear tourists, Ostend was a disaster today, both on the beach and in the station. You can forget about the coronavirus, but don’t forget about the coronavirus. In this way we are all back in our room with a complete lockdown on our bermuda shorts! Later, Van Ranst adapted that tweet to ‘It won’t work like this, friends’ and shared images of the chaos.
“This was Murphy,” Bart Tommelein responds to the problems with the train. “There is little we can do about that as a city.” Tommelein wants to consult with federal mobility minister François Bellot about an emergency plan for unforeseen circumstances.
Furthermore, according to the mayor, everything went quite well in the city itself, although the obligation to mask masks sometimes caused problems. “I’m concerned about the big city crowd getting on the trains and coming to our city. I don’t want to keep everyone away, because it can be well controlled, but if you are with groups of young people who do not want to follow the rules and make it a day where they break the rules as much as possible, you will of course have problems . ”
There have been no major incidents, but according to Tommelein there are young people, ‘especially from the Brussels region’, who ignore the guidelines in Ostend. “They know that there is a mouth mask obligation, because they have mouth masks, but they challenge,” said the mayor. “If you get into such a situation that the trains can’t leave, you’re powerless. But we cannot control that. I cannot determine who does and who does not enter Ostend. ”