BRUSSELS — In an April Fool’s Day joke that went fallacious, a pretend announcement of a music festival contributed to thousands gathering in a main park in Brussels on Thursday in defiance of Covid-19 restrictions. As the police confronted the gang, a number of officers and members had been wounded, and 4 individuals had been arrested.

The unusually heat climate within the metropolis would almost certainly have drawn individuals to the park in larger numbers, however the prank added to the density. The stage of frustration, notably amongst youthful individuals, is excessive in Belgium, as new Covid-19 instances are rising and hospitals turn out to be saturated regardless of months of restrictions.

The hoax festival, announced on Facebook and called “La Boum,” a slang phrase in French for a social gathering, promised the looks of well-known DJs, together with David Guetta, and claimed that no coronavirus guidelines can be adopted.

The organizers famous that the festival was a hoax, however, in accordance to the police, 1,500 to 2,000 individuals nonetheless gathered within the park, Bois de la Cambre, on Thursday afternoon, after tens of thousands registered on Facebook their curiosity within the occasion. Despite a number of warnings, the police mentioned, the attendees refused to go away, and a few chanted “Freedom!” and threw bottles. The police used water cannons and despatched in mounted officers to disperse the gang.

Belgium has been in a semi-lockdown since October, with eating places and bars closed, and guidelines requiring residents to earn a living from home and limiting social contacts to one individual per family. Up to 4 individuals are allowed to meet outdoors, so long as they put on face masks and respect social-distancing guidelines. Last week, in response to an rising variety of new instances and a rise within the variety of hospitalized sufferers, the Belgian authorities tightened the principles, ordering hairdressers and wonder salons to shut and permitting nonessential shops to serve prospects by appointment solely.

Prime Minister Alexander De Croo posted on Twitter that the gathering in Brussels was “totally unacceptable.”

“All support to the injured police officers,” he added. “I understand everyone is tired of corona. But the rules are there for a reason, and they are binding for everyone. Hospitals are filling up. Solidarity now is the key to freedom tomorrow.”

Annelies Verlinden, the Belgian inside minister, acknowledged that “for many people, especially the young ones, the Covid crisis is now lasting a very long time.” But she mentioned that the gathering in Brussels was “a slap in the face for all those who are doing their best to respect the coronavirus measures.”

On Wednesday, a Brussels court docket ordered the Belgian authorities to raise all Covid-19 restrictions, ruling that the measures didn’t have a authorized foundation as a result of they’d been instituted by ministerial decrees. But the court docket gave the federal government 30 days to treatment the state of affairs, and a particular pandemic legislation is presently being debated in Parliament.

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