Georges-Louis Bouchez, the leader of the Francophone liberal MR party, pleads for a one-time exception to the ban on visiting people for Christmas, stating that the celebrations should not be held over Skype.
"We must remain cautious and make decisions based on figures," he told Bel RTL on Thursday morning, adding that celebrating with three or four people should still be possible. "We do not want to be celebrating Christmas via Skype, right?"
"We have to give perspective to the people. Of course, in the coming weeks, we will have to make an enormous effort and stick strictly to the rules," Bouchez said. "We must set a perspective for the population."
"However, the mental health of our population is also important. Saving Christmas must become the common goal of 'team Belgium'," he said, referring to Prime Minister Alexander De Croo's earlier statements that the country is "a team of 11 million people" in the fight against the coronavirus.
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On Thursday morning federal ministers for Health, Frank Vandenbroucke, and for Home Affairs, Annelies Verlinden, already wrote a letter to Sinterklaas to assure him that he was exempted from the strict quarantine and curfew measures, but Bouchez wants a Christmas exception for the whole population.
However, the priority should be on family, he stressed, not on opening stores or markets to make Christmas shopping possible.
"Family must come first. I know that shop owners are having a hard time at the moment," Bouchez said. "As soon as we can make their lives a little easier, we will certainly do that. However, the wellbeing of the population comes first."
He also reiterated the objective of reducing the number of new Covid-19 infections to 50 per day. "We have to strike the right balance, but we must not let this coronavirus disrupt our society," said Bouchez.
On Thursday 12 November, an average of 7,664.6 new cases per day was recorded. According to Sciensano's projections, Belgium's infection figures should drop to approximately 1,000 per day around mid-December, at the current rate.
A similar average has not been recorded since 9 September, at the start of the second wave, virologist and interfederal Covid-19 spokesperson Steven Van Gucht said during a press conference on Wednesday. However, even then, Belgium will "still be very far from the low number that is necessary to be safe," he said.
The Brussels Times