Coronavirus: Inviting friends over still not allowed, says De Block
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    Coronavirus: Inviting friends over still not allowed, says De Block

    Being with family and friends, and having a barbecue is not allowed yet. Credit: Piqsels

    Federal Minister for Public Health Maggie De Block calls on everyone to keep respecting the lockdown measures, despite their enthusiasm to return to normal life as soon as possible.

    The enthusiasm is understandable, according to De Block, but people should remain cautious, even if the measures to contain the further spread of the new coronavirus (Covid-19) are beginning to take their toll. “As a doctor and as a minister, I am very concerned,” she told Het Nieuwsblad, adding that “the virus is still on its way around the world.”

    She compared the future relaxing of the measures with the cast that is removed after a broken leg has healed. “It feels like a huge relief, but you have to take it easy for a while. If you start running and jumping immediately, chances are you’ll be back in the hospital right away,” De Block added.

    On Friday, the National Security Council will meet to discuss the next phase of the lockdown measures. De Block is also part of that Council, which will have to decide on Belgium’s exit strategy, but she is afraid people’s expectations are too high.

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    “People want to pick up their social life again, be with family and friends, have a barbecue, especially with the warmer weather now,” De Block said. “But the virus is not gone yet. If, in all our enthusiasm, we let go of all the measures, we are giving it every chance again. That would nullify all the efforts of the health sector in recent weeks,” she added.

    When asked about the experts’ recommendations to leave the lockdown, of which a draft version was leaked on Wednesday, and specifically on the possibility to meet with a fixed group of up to 10 people, De Block said that they “did not mean inviting friends over and throwing parties.”

    She clarified that this would always concern the same group of people, and that the aim was to allow people to get together with family, children and grandchildren. “Especially for older people, it is difficult to only see their family members through the window. I understand that they miss their grandchildren,” De Block said.

    “That is why we want to allow more contact now, although not with everyone and not every day. First with the limited circle of family. We’re not partying yet,” she added.

    Maïthé Chini
    The Brussels Times