Out-of-work crew sue Belgian state
Five Belgian event companies are suing the government to try and force an end to allegedly discriminatory restrictions on privately organised events.
Six months into the coronavirus crisis, and with no end in sight, the quintet have recruited the services of a lawyer in order to end the disparity between events open to the general public and those organised by ‘invitation’ (ie ticketed).
According to the group’s counsel, Vincent Letellier, “it is not logical that a football club could organise an event accessible to the general public with 200 people inside, and 400 outside, but that this event be limited to ten people if it takes place by invitation.”
Additionally, venues such as restaurants can get around the rule of ten by strategically placing tables, he tells RTL Info: “a restaurant can organise an event of 30 people by setting up three tables of 10. This is not fair.”
The lawsuit, which names Belgian prime minister Sophie Wilmès, minister of the interior Pieter De Crem and minister for the self-employed Denis Ducarme, was filed earlier this month. If the government does not respond, it will be heard before the court of first instance in Brussels.
“Additional support is needed to help the industry survive this pandemic”
According to the Belgian Event Supplier Association, the Belgian event production sector is in urgent need of a rescue package of more than three quarters of a billion euros to prevent widespread insolvencies ahead of restarting activity in 2021.
Commenting on a new BESA-commissioned study by Deloitte – which shows €777,777 million as the minimum amount needed to prop up the business – Emile de Cartier, president of umbrella organisation Confederation Events, says: “With the second wave [of Covid-19], tightened sanitation measures and the lack of certainty about the future, our sector is de facto confronted with one long-term lockdown. Due to the uncertain evolution of the virus, the events sector will not restart until at least 2021.
“The sector is facing a drastic fall in sales due to the suspension of activities for six months now, while most companies still have high overheads to sustain. Although as a sector we are looking for creative and innovative opportunities to organise secure live events, the maximum capacity limit makes it economically impossible to operate. The economic viability of our companies can only be guaranteed if events can be organised for a wider audience.
“We appreciate the efforts of various governments to support the sector. Most companies have managed to take advantage of those measures, but in the current context additional support is needed to help the industry survive this pandemic.”
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