What Belgium’s National Security Council will discuss on Wednesday
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    What Belgium’s National Security Council will discuss on Wednesday

    Credit: Belga

    Belgium’s National Security Council will meet again on Wednesday morning to discuss the next phase of the plan to gradually ease the country out of lockdown.

    The next key stage, Phase 1B, of Belgium’s deconfinement strategy, as announced by the National Security Council, is expected to start on 11 May, when all stores will be allowed to reopen, if the evolution of the curve allows it.

    Following three days in a row of fewer than 100 new hospital admissions reported by the authorities, it is assumed that the next phase will go ahead as planned, same as Phase 1A did on Monday 4 May. However, other parameters, such as the number of patients in intensive care, and the number of doctor consultations for flu-like symptoms will also be taken into account.

    A spokesperson for Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès told The Brussels Times that it would be logical for the next step of the deconfinement strategy to be discussed, but that he could “not confirm or deny” the content of the meeting.

    The Council will meet at 9:00 AM, and the hour at which the press conference will start will be announced in advance. This is meant to avoid a repeat of the conference on 24 April, which started late on Friday night, and for which Wilmès received a lot of criticism.

    “We can expect flawless communication,” the Group of Experts for the Exit Strategy (GEES) told De Standaard.

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    Last Thursday, the trade unions, Comeos, Unizo and Union des Classes Moyennes reached an agreement about which measures should be taken before stores are allowed to reopen on 11 May, such as the places in the stores that are only accessible to staff, as well as specific suggestions depending on the type of store.

    However, the National Security Council, in which the federated states are also represented, could impose additional conditions or changes, according to the Belga press agency, specifically regarding the distribution of customers to avoid too many customers at the same time.

    Another point likely to be discussed is sports competitions. Championships and competitions were put on hold, but many federations are waiting for an official decision from politicians to put a definitive end to the season.

    Maïthé Chini
    The Brussels Times