‘Completely at odds with suggestions’: experts divided over Flanders’ summer plan

‘Completely at odds with suggestions’: experts divided over Flanders’ summer plan
Credit: Belga

Opinions from the GEMS advisory group are divided on the Flemish government’s “Freedom Plan” to allow relaxations in the region throughout this summer.

Infectious diseases expert and chairwoman of the GEMS advisory council, Erika Vlieghe, has spoken out against the so-called “Freedom Plan”, which was presented on Sunday, setting out a timeline for the re-opening of various sectors, culminating in a return to normality by October.

“This plan is completely at odds with what we (GEMS experts) had proposed. I note that our advice has been pushed aside,” Vlieghe told Belga news agency, adding that politicians are aware of the fact that the experts do not support the plans.

She added that the government is being “imprudent”, and that people are increasingly “assuming that the coronavirus crisis is behind us”, but that it was not yet the right timing to announce these relaxations, according to reports from Het Laatste Nieuws.

“Despite the high vaccination rate we will hopefully have achieved by then,” says Vlieghe, “there will still be too many uncertain factors.

However, GEMS colleague and virologist Marc Van Ranst said on Twitter that festivals in the second half of August may be possible with a coronavirus pas and strict testing conditions.

He added that, according to the most optimistic scenario, this would depend on vaccinations continuing to go well, and on hospitalisations and admissions to hospital intensive care units continuing to decline.

The plan takes the form of a calendar of month-by-month relaxations of Belgium’s anti-Covid restrictions, in each case depending on the progress of the pandemic, in particular the occupation of hospital beds and intensive care units.

During Tuesday’s Consultative Committee, the exact details and conditions of the plan will be discussed, but it has been suggested that working on the basis of the European green certificate, which will take into account vaccination, a negative test result, or immunity.

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