On Saturday, Walloon Minister-President Elio Di Rupo urged residents of the region who have not been vaccinated against the coronavirus to "examine their conscience" and reflect seriously on the consequences of their choice.
“This is not about heaping blame on the people who have not yet responded to invitations to be vaccinated; however, their responsibility is real,” Di Rupo said in an address ar the Fêtes de Wallonie (Festival of Wallonia).
"Unvaccinated people need to measure the consequences of their inaction and delays," he said. "The choice is simple."
"You either accept the protection of the vaccines, which, according to all indications, are effective, or deprive yourself of the vaccine and expose yourself to the considerable risk of being infected and dying in atrocious conditions," Di Rupo said. "If not die, at least suffer, and live for months with very crippling consequences."
"The time has come for everyone to examine their conscience and assume their responsibilities," he added.
Belgium’s Consultative Committee on Friday defined a federal framework for relaxing health measures such as the obligation to wear masks in public, which will be limited to specific situations from 1 October. In Brussels, however, Minister-President Rudi Vervoort has already said the measures will not be relaxed by then.
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Wallonia’s Government is scheduled to discuss the issue next week, but Di Rupo has been calling for a stricter approach in keeping with the recommendations of the experts that advise the various governments.
In his address, he also focused on the floods that hit the region in July, transforming entire areas into disaster zones, and recalled the efforts and resources deployed by his Government to help the victims, while welcoming the groundswell of support from the population.
“In the dark night of that fatal July, there was a bright light. The remarkable solidarity shown by Belgians, Flemish people, Brussels people and Walloons, worked wonders,” he stressed.
"As the waters rushed forward, health workers, emergency services, administrative and technical officers worked day and night. They summoned all their strength, sometimes until they were exhausted," Di Rupo added. "The gifts flowed in and volunteers came from everywhere, offering their arms and their generosity.”
Wallonia’s Government has earmarked €7 million for the region’s recovery effort, and part of this will go towards rebuilding the affected areas.
"Never before had Wallonia suffered such a succession of heavy blows, but never, too, had Wallonia’s institutions put together a recovery plan of such magnitude,” Di Rupo said, calling on all stakeholders to be mobilised.
"In Wallonia, it’s now time for collective recovery. Pettiness, meanness, private interests, lobbies without vision need to take second place,” he added. “All that counts now is the target that transcends us, namely the definitive recovery of our region. To achieve it, I am calling for a union of all its driving forces.”
The Brussels Times