Flemish Minister of Housing, Finance, Budget and Heritage Matthias Diependaele (N-VA) also opened community center De Blomme in Oostmalle last Tuesday. On Sunday, the minister himself announced that he is infected with the corona virus. Ex-Flemish Interest Pieter van Boxel, who now has his own party SVF but was no longer elected, calls for Thursday’s city council to be postponed for that reason and to allow the Sinterklaas procession on Saturday without politicians. “Exaggerated, it will be a hybrid city council anyway”, responds Mayor Harry Hendrickx (DBM).
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The minister has to quarantine until next Monday. At the opening of community center De Blomme last Tuesday, several aldermen from the administrative majority and deputy Kathleen Helsen were also present. The opening took place in a tent in De Blomme’s garden, which was open on one side. Because that tent did not really offer a nice place for photos that had to radiate the warm community center feeling, the minister took a short seat on the first floor of the community center at the request of the press present, together with the mayor, aldermen, community worker and deputy.
Reason for Pieter van Boxel to postpone the city council next Thursday. “The politicians present will have to undergo a PCR test anyway, and it is impossible for them to get out of quarantine before Thursday,” concludes Van Boxel, who also believes that Sinterklaas should not be received by the mayor on Saturday. He does add that the politicians present cannot be blamed because the news about the infection was only announced on Sunday.
Mayor Harry Hendrickx (DBM) strongly believes that Van Boxel draws conclusions from photos of events where he was not present. “That moment in the sofa was very fleeting. For the rest, we have kept the necessary distance and worn mouth masks where necessary. I myself was not contacted by contact research and I feel completely fine. I had no intensive contact with the minister last Tuesday. Those present who had a slightly longer conversation with the minister had themselves tested and were negative. So I see no reason to postpone Thursday’s council meeting. It will in any case continue as a hybrid in the large hall of De Notelaar. Aldermen and councilors are given the free choice of being physically present or participating digitally.”
The mayor also sees no reason not to receive Sinterklaas in person on Saturday. It is the last time that he can experience this great moment in his capacity as mayor, because next year the mayor will pass on his sash to alderman Van Looy (N-VA). “I am very sorry that this person discredits me about events where he was not present and therefore could not see how they were organized.”
Ships Sanne Van Looy points out that only high-risk contacts – unprotected for more than fifteen minutes at a distance of less than one and a half meters from each other – require a PCR test. “If there were already high-risk contacts, those who were vaccinated after the first negative PCR test can be removed from isolation,” the ships said.