Belgian lockdown 'not on the table yet', says Walloon health minister

Belgian lockdown 'not on the table yet', says Walloon health minister
The Brussels Grand Place during the first confinement. Credit: Belga

As Belgium's neighbours announce tight restrictions in response to the surge in coronavirus infections driven by the highly transmissible Omicron variant, the Walloon Minister for Health Christie Morreale (PS) said that a confinement in Belgium is not currently being considered by the government.

Speaking on the television programme "C'est pas tous les jours dimanche" (RTL-TVi) on Sunday, Morreale said that a strict confinement – as has been announced in the Netherlands from today – is "not on the table for the Government at this stage," Belga News Agency reported.

She highlighted some important differences between the state of public health in the Netherlands and Belgium; specifically, the fact that three times more of Belgium's population has received a third vaccine dose. Moreover, Belgium has more available intensive care beds.

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Nonetheless, Morreale emphasised the need to "double down on third doses: it is essential that everyone who is eligible goes to a vaccination centre." In addition, she impressed the importance of adhering to the other protection measures – ventilation, wearing a mask, social distancing, and limiting the number of close contacts.

Despite her denial that a general confinement is on the cards, Morreale also said that she thought that Belgium should not relax the regulations currently in place.

Belgium has yet to decide on how its coronavirus strategy will evolve after the most recent measures were introduced two weeks ago. However, as neighbouring countries such as the Netherlands and France double down efforts to prevent the virus spread, it is unlikely that current restrictions will be relaxed at the next Consultative Committee, due to take place next Wednesday 22 December.

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