Coronavirus: More clarity on future of lockdown expected on Tuesday

Coronavirus: More clarity on future of lockdown expected on Tuesday
Credit: Belga

Belgium’s Group of Experts for an Exit Strategy (GEES) that has to ease the country out of the lockdown imposed to contain the new coronavirus (Covid-19) will deliver its first report to the government on Tuesday.

"The return to normal can only be gradual," said Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès before the Members of Parliament on Thursday. The day after the government receives the report, Belgium's National Security Council will meet.

The Prime Minister recalled the economic and budgetary damage of the crisis, as calculated by the National Bank on Wednesday, which included an 8% decline in growth this year, or a debt that will represent 115% of GDP.

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"The situation will be very difficult for all to overcome," she said in a televised speech on Sunday. "There will be a 'before' and 'after' the coronavirus, in our way of looking at relationships with others and the way we conceive of our society," Wilmès added.

Economic recovery is an important part of this reflection. In the face of the pandemic, the parliament gave Wilmès special powers to govern for six months, to allow her to guide the country through the emergency of the coronavirus pandemic, but political divisions still remain.

On 17 March, Wilmès already indicated that she will ask for the same confidence again, in six months' time, as a "government with a full majority in the parliament and in its midst" will be needed, she said.

Maïthé Chini

The Brussels Times

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