Today (like right now), Belgium’s Consultative Committee meets again to review the public health situation and decide how to adapt the country’s coronavirus strategy. What started as a fairly exceptional meeting of government ministers has now become a regular affair.
A snap meeting last week bypassed the usual pre-committee fanfare to reverse decisions taken only the week before. Some health experts and politicians have cautioned against holding the meetings too often, warning that it undermines the measures put in place and creates the impression that new regulations are slapdash and ill-considered.
And as cases of the highly-infectious Omicron variant spiral, a careful approach is vital to ensuring that the country is unified in the battle against the virus. The measures are only effective so long as they have public support and with almost two years of restrictions, patience is wearing thin.
Just look at France. Throwing caution to the wind, a manifestly fed-up Emmanuel Macron sparked a storm of outrage when he used somewhat colourful language to lay out his strategy to impose restrictions on those who resist vaccination. Critics lampooned him for his lack of tact – quite unbecoming of a President they cried.
Thankfully in Belgium, politicians tend to be a little cooler under the collar and it seems unlikely that we will go down such an antagonistic route as in France.
The debacle over the widely-unpopular closure of the cultural sector marred the meetings held at the end of last year and saw the government taking flak from all angles. It will be a political blunder that ministers are eager not to repeat.
For the sake of both public opinion and public health, the powers that be should tread carefully.
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French President Emmanuel Macron has said in an interview that he aims to continue to make life difficult for the unvaccinated in order to convince them to get the dose. Read more.
Belgium’s Consultative Committee will meet this morning to reassess the coronavirus situation and evaluate the measures currently in effect. Read more.
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The high infectivity of the less severe Omicron variant will make a return to normal life possible by March after a peak in infections at the end of January, according to Danish epidemiologist Tyra Grove Krause. Read more.
The number of new coronavirus cases in Belgium continues to skyrocket and preliminary figures show the highest number of new infections was recorded on Monday since the start of the pandemic. Read more.
Millions of tourists head straight for the centre of Bruges, where the narrow lanes lined with souvenir shops are often impossibly crowded. But you can quickly get away from the crowds if you walk just ten minutes to the north. Read more.