Belgium’s Consultative Committee will meet again at 1:00 PM today to evaluate the coronavirus situation as it faces crushing pressure to drastically tighten current regulations.
As previous measures have failed to contain hospitalisation and infection figures from skyrocketing, leaders are facing mounting calls to move the country back into lockdown to keep hospitals from collapsing.
The possibility of introducing one will be on the table, following statements that Wallonia would "move further towards a regional lockdown" if it does not consider the new rules sufficient.
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Shutting down non-essential shops are one of the main options on the table, with the CELEVAL advisory committee considering the shut down of professions requiring close contacts, such as hairdressers and estheticians, De Morgen reports.
Members of the scientific community have also called on the government to limit non-essential movements and to further reduce the number of social contacts a person is allowed to have, a move endorsed by Coronavirus Commissioner Pedro Facon.
"Politicians should not hesitate to take profound, further measures," he said. "They have all the support of health care workers for this, the number of social contacts must be drastically reduced."
CELEVAL experts have also recommended scrapping the current social bubble of four (the number of visitors allowed per household) and allowing each person to have only one contact with whom close physical contact is allowed, according to De Standaard.
According to Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, getting out of the danger zone will be a long-term effort. This "long-term effort" will be discussed on Friday, he told the House, meaning that the rules could remain in place longer than initially announced.
The scheduled two-week evaluation of the measures that were taken on 16 October - such as the closure of the bars and restaurants - is also on the agenda.
With no consensus around the table between regional leaders and CELEVAL experts themselves, the meeting this afternoon is set to be a long one.
It will be also a major test for Prime Minister Alexander De Croo's ability to find unity among the country's regional governments and get them to all agree on a unified approach to tackle the second wave of the pandemic.
Maïthé Chini & Gabriela Galindo
The Brussels Times