National Security Council: clarity on lockdown expected tonight
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    National Security Council: clarity on lockdown expected tonight

    Credit: Belga

    From 2:30 PM of Friday, Belgium’s National Security Council is discussing if, when and how the lockdown measures, imposed to contain the further spread of the new coronavirus (Covid-19), could be relaxed.

    The Council includes the Belgian Prime Minister and the country regions’ Minister-Presidents, as well as experts and several politicians from the federal government.

    After the meeting, the Security Council will give a press conference to inform the population of its decisions, but some members have hinted that many subjects need to be covered and that there is a real possibility that they will be running late.

    The meeting follows two leaks of the reports of recommendations on how to ease Belgium out of the lockdown, by the Group of Experts for the Exit Strategy (GEES), who met on Wednesday. The first leaked draft proposal suggested that work could resume from 4 May, and schools would be reopened from 18 May.

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    The second note suggested that Belgium’s lockdown measures will be lifted in three phases, which would all be dependent on certain conditions, such as the number of people in admitted to hospital and the accessibility of face masks and testing kits.

    The leaks prompted the ire of politicians and experts, who called it “irresponsible, almost criminal behaviour” and stressed that it only concerned a draft version. The Prime Minister responded by saying that any official information will be communicated by the Security Council during the press conference, and not by anyone else or in any other way.

    Following the meeting, clarity on the reopening of schools and (some) stores is expected, as well as on the restart of work in some sectors. The question of whether weddings and other smaller events will be allowed during the summer, and if meeting a fixed group of people is possible will also likely be answered.

    Maïthé Chini
    The Brussels Times