'Taking the pressure off': relax rules for outdoor activities, says Van Ranst

'Taking the pressure off': relax rules for outdoor activities, says Van Ranst
Credit: Belga

Belgium's coronavirus figures are objectively not good enough for the Consultative Committee to relax measures, but allowing some outdoor activities could take the pressure off people, according to virologist Marc Van Ranst.

As the number of Covid-19 patients in intensive care has risen to 945, and infection figures are stabilising at a too-high plateau, "normally, you cannot relax measures," Van Ranst said on Twitter.

"However, when people's carrying capacity is exceeded, you cannot but take the pressure off by easing up on some outdoor activities," he said. "Life is always more than a mere virological reality."

In the run-up to today's Consultative Committee, several political parties, mayors, and sector federations have been calling for different relaxations, such as the reopening of the terraces, or the restart of contact professions.

Initially, the reopening of the hospitality sector was planned for 1 May, and several ministers from Belgium's different governments already stated that commitments that were made during previous meetings "must be respected."

Flemish Minister-President Jan Jambon said that the opening of the hospitality sector's terraces was a certainty for him, adding that a broader reopening would be decided in a "next phase."

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The Deputy PM for the Walloon green Ecolo party, Georges Gilkinet, also highlighted the population's decreasing mental health, adding that "people need to see each other again."

Additionally, people in the economic sectors need to work, and those in the cultural and events sector need perspective, according to him.

Van Ranst, however, warned that if all parties want to implement "all their favourite relaxations" right away, it will not work. "By necessity, this will have to be done step by step, and spread out between today and the summer holidays."

The one certainty in this crisis is that "at some point, all coronavirus measures will be gone again," according to Van Ranst, who added that that moment is getting closer with every vaccine that is administered.

Belgium's Consultative Committee has been meeting since 9:00 AM, and will announce its decisions during a press conference afterwards, the cabinet of Prime Minister Alexander De Croo confirmed to The Brussels Times.

A more in-depth look at what the Committee is discussing can be found here.

Maïthé Chini

The Brussels Times

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