There was a good reason behind the decision to reopen terraces a week later than expected, according to Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, who called upon people for a sense of responsibility in the fight against the pandemic.
The decision made by the Consultative Committee on Wednesday to bring back the initial date for reopenings of terraces from 1 May to 8 May, resulted in a lot of criticism, but people need to keep their head cool, he told RTBF on Thursday evening.
“Let’s look at what we have done in a year. We were able to control a third wave that some people were predicting would be exponential. We took collective action. Are we going to jeopardise all that for an eight-day waiting period?” De Croo said.
He said that there is “a good reason to do it on 8 May,” as the difference is just one week, but in a one-week period, an additional 500,000 can be immunised, adding that the vaccination campaign is the stable ground under our feet which allows us to look at the future.
Following the decision to push back the reopening, statements from certain mayors, including Willy Demeyer of Liège, on this subject caused a stir.
He warned that his police would not be able to do anything if as promised the restaurants in the city decided to go ahead and open on 1 May, which led to a telephone conversation between the mayor and the Prime Minister.
“This virus does not accept political discussion. When reality changes, you have to change your plans, and when the Consultative Committee takes decisions, they must be respected. We work together with the mayors to ensure that they are,” De Croo said.
Several provincial governors and some mayors have been communicating ahead of the next Consultative Committee, planned for 23 April, which will concretely focus on the reopening of the terraces, as well as cultural and sports events.
Despite warnings from the Federal Public Health Service (FPS) that there are only 86 intensive care unit beds available, or fewer than one per hospital, in Belgium, the Prime Minister claimed that the situation has improved on the critical care front.
“The situation is under control. What is important is that it did not explode, that was the main thing,” he said.
He looked forward to the summer, saying that he “would be surprised if this summer it were not possible to travel in a more standardised way,” mentioning the European “green certificate”, or vaccination passport, concluding that”this summer will be much better than this spring.”
The Brussels Times