Photo of the week: Great white hope


De Lijn bus drivers deliver a simple but lovely message to keep up our spirits as we made our way through the sixth week of quarantine in Flanders

In the driver’s seat

Flemish public transport service De Lijn kept it simple in their touching message in Sint-Niklaas late last week. They lined up busses to spell out the Dutch word for “hope” on the city’s Grote Markt.

De Lijn drivers carry out an “essential job” and so they have kept working through the coronavirus shutdown. Measures have been taken to encourage passengers to respect social distancing, and busses have carried a fraction of the normal number of passengers since the shutdown began last month.

Conflicts have also occurred, with one of the most dramatic in Sint-Niklaas early this month: An angry passenger spit in the face of a driver. The bus had gotten a flat tire, and the driver had asked the three passengers on board to disembark.

One of them was a man with a small child. He began to argue with the driver, eventually spitting on him before running away with the child. “Luckily, I wear glasses, so the saliva didn’t get directly into my eye, but it was all over the rest of my face,” the 55-year-old De Lijn worker told Het Laatste Nieuws.

He had to then self-isolate for 10 days before returning to work. Police were trying to identify the spitter, but information as to any arrest or whether the driver was infected with the coronavirus has not been released.

“During the corona crisis, we are prosecuting anyone who purposely spits or coughs on police officers or other citizens,” said local police commissioner Hedwig Smet.

Photo ©Belga