'Grandparents should not look after children,' lockdown exit expert warns

'Grandparents should not look after children,' lockdown exit expert warns
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Children should not be dropped off for daycare at their grandparents' homes, the chair of Belgium's task for exiting the coronavirus lockdown warned Thursday.

After Belgium's National Security Council (NSC) said visits to other people's home would be allowed from Sunday, government experts have spoken out to urge caution when it came to at-risk groups, such as the elderly.

"A visit — a short visit— at a safe distance is really quite different from looking after a grandchild for the whole day," Erika Vlieghe, an infectious disease expert and chair of Belgium’s Group of Experts for an Exit Strategy (GEES), told De Standaard.

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"We don't encourage it," she said. "Grandparents can see their grandchildren from a safe distance. But watching them all day? No way, that is not possible at a safe distance."

The NSC announced Wednesday that up to four people could pay a visit to another person's home, provided that the 1.5 metres of social distancing is respected and that those four people were always the same and did not visit a different household.

Vlieghe's warnings contradict statements given by Flemish Prime Minister Jan Jambon and could underscore a gap between politicians' and experts' grip on the situation.

Following the announcement on Wednesday, Jambon said in the Flemish parliament that grandparents could take care of their grandkids "if they are among the four people their families are allowed to interact with," according to De Standaard.

Following the announcement, politicians and experts with the coronavirus task force have all called on citizens to "use their common sense" when visiting each other, with Vlieghe warning that this concession was not without risks.

"We are still breaking open the epidemiological silos," she said, adding that it was difficult to find a balance to reduce the blow of the isolation measures required to keep the epidemiological situation under control.

"We are going to see how it works, and we hope that people also have the common sense to keep it to a minimum," she said.

Gabriela Galindo

The Brussels Times

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