After dominating daily affairs for the best part of two years, the pandemic has been abruptly shunted from the spotlight as war broke out on European turf. Explosive airborne projectiles raining indiscriminately on Ukraine became a far more pressing concern than an airborne virus that, mercifully, is on the wane in Belgium.
But although it may no longer be getting the airtime it once did, the coronavirus continues to hang over our lives, albeit with less severe restrictions on civil liberties than in previous months. Today, Belgium's Consultative Committee meets again to consider further relaxations – measures that will be welcome to all who have craved "normality" for so long.
Numerous politicians and health experts have already voiced their strong suspicions that Belgium will make the move to "code yellow" on its coronavirus barometer. Yet this instrument – on the surface a straightforward tool to indicate the direction of the pandemic's evolution and resulting restrictions – says just as much about Belgium's convoluted political structure as it does the epidemiological situation.
There is an unmissable irony in the fact that what was supposed to be a simple gauge of what measures would be implemented to protect public health took two prime ministers and four infection waves to finally enact, only to be largely redundant just a few weeks later.
Elsewhere in Europe, restrictions have also been dropped – most recently in France that yesterday announced the lifting of its own version of the CST. This unanimously popular move perhaps not coincidentally came on the same day that Emmanuel Macron announced his official candidacy for next month's presidential elections.
Not often accused of brash decisions, Belgian ministers will no doubt take note of its neighbours and see the signs of a continental progression as the scourge of Covid passes. Meanwhile, fresh conflict brings a heightened cause for concern.
Are you done with the pandemic? Let @Orlando_tbt know.
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