National Security Council: Belgium will not further relax measures today
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    National Security Council: Belgium will not further relax measures today

    Credit: Belga

    Belgium will not further relax measures for the next stage of its exit plan out of the lockdown today, announced Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès during a press conference on Wednesday.

     

    “As you know, since Saturday it is mandatory to wear a mask in certain closed areas,” said Wilmès. “But wearing a mask should not prevent us from respecting the other measures. The mask is an extra precaution, but it does not stand alone,” she said, adding that the 6 golden rules remain important.

    Additionally, masks could still become compulsory in other places, depending on the health situation.

    During the last meeting, the government set out a number of measures that could take effect from August, if the situation permitted. A decision on whether measures will be further relaxed has been postponed until Thursday 23 July. By then, the government and experts hope to be able to better assess the epidemiological situation.

    “Since the beginning of this month, we have seen a resurgence of the virus. Phase 5 was drawn up, and was scheduled to start on 1 August,” she said.

    Additionally, the GEES reports that the so-called reproduction number is already above 1 again, which means that the epidemic is regaining strength. “That is not good. The situation should not get any worse,” said Wilmès.

    “A lot depends on our own behaviour,” Wilmès warned.

    The bubble of 15 people a week will remain.

    Belgium implemented a colour-coded system for non-essential travel, and the regions have introduced an obligation to quarantine, to prevent the virus from circulating more.

    However, people should also be vigilant during their holidays, and not only after their return, Wilmès said. “The virus does not behave differently abroad. So, apply the measures for your own safety,” she added.

    “The best way to prepare for a second wave is to try to avoid it,” Wilmès said, “Today’s Belgium is not the same as February’s Belgium,” she added.

    “The trend is not positive,” Wilmès said. “We want to see how it evolves now. We are also trying to find out more about the cause of the resurgence. Then we can take better measures,” she added.

    If next week, it turns out that stricter measures are needed, Belgium is ready to do that, Wilmès said.

    Maïthé Chini
    The Brussels Times