Belgium in Brief: The battle for public support

Belgium in Brief: The battle for public support

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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Belgium in Brief is a free daily roundup of the top stories to get you through your lunch break conversations. To receive it straight to your inbox every day, sign up below:

1. French president intends stricter rules to ‘piss off’ unvaccinated people

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.

2. What’s on the table for the Consultative Committee today?


Belgium’s Consultative Committee will meet this morning to reassess the coronavirus situation and evaluate the measures currently in effect. Read more.

3. Mercedes-Benz recalls hundreds of thousands of cars due to fire risk

Some 800,000 Mercedes-Benz car owners have been warned that their cars could catch fire due to a technical defect, which cannot be fixed immediately. Read more.

4. Belgium has most recorded robberies in EU

Belgium has three times the number of robberies per 100,000 residents than the European average. However, the figures also highlight the willingness in Belgium to report such cases. Read more.

5. ‘Return to normal life’ will be possible by March, says Danish expert

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.

6. Record new Covid-19 cases on Monday, preliminary figures show

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.

7. Hidden Belgium: the Bruges no one knows

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.

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