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Belgium lifts ban on staying in a second home
Belgium has lifted its ban on visits to a second home, just in time for the long Ascension holiday weekend.
But the governor of West Flanders has warned that the Belgian coast is "not ready" to deal with a large influx of people and has urged second home owners to stay away for now.
Belgium's national security council held an online meeting on Wednesday, amid growing pressure to open up the possibility of second home visits. Belgian prime minister Sophie Wilmès told parliament earlier that there was "no longer any reason to maintain this ban".
Earlier this month, the mayors of several coastal resorts had warned they could no longer enforce the ban, which was due to remain in place until at least 8 June. Flemish tourism minister Zuhal Demir had called for the restriction to be lifted "as quickly as possible".
Several hundred second-homeowners on the Belgian coast and in the Ardennes hired a lawyer to organise a class action against the Belgian authorities for refusing them their right to use their property. The legal challenge was organised through a Facebook page, where 7,000 second homeowners had registered to voice their disapproval.
The rules on inviting guests remain the same - so you can have four people visit your second home, but they must be the same four people as are allowed to see you at your primary residence.
The governor of West Flanders, Carl Decaluwé, said he feared a surge in the number of people visiting the coast this Ascension weekend.
"The coast is not ready to welcome second home owners," he said. "I believe that everyone has the right to go to the coast but I fear that the recommended distances will not be possible. If you want to come this summer, stay home for the next few days."