Belgium's rules won't change again this year, warns De Croo

Belgium's rules won't change again this year, warns De Croo

Belgium's current coronavirus fighting measures will not be reduced until next year, according to the latest comments by Prime Minister Alexander De Croo.

Speaking to VRT NWS, De Croo responded to speculations from Belgium's political sphere that there could be a chance to further reduce measures if figures continued to improve.

"We took a decision on Friday," said De Croo. "We agreed on the threshold below which we have to go before we can relax. All models show that we will reach that threshold at the beginning of January. If we stick to the current measures, we can then look at easing it".

"If all of us, all of the governments together, take a decision on Friday, we will not be in any doubt about that on Tuesday, will we? If we take a decision, we will stick to it. That seems to me to be the very logic."

"No Reason Not To"

According to the latest figures, all of the major coronavirus indicators in Belgium continue to decrease. Between 23 and 28 November, an average of 2,304.7 new people tested positive per day over the past week, which is a 29% decrease compared to the week before.

If this positive trend continues, there could be good reason to reevaluate, some politicians have mused.

On Tuesday evening MR Chairman Georges-Louis Bouchez said there was "no reason not to relax the measures" if the situation in Belgium improves, a notion mirrored by PS Chairman Paul Magnette.

"If we find that the figures are clearly improving over the next few days, why not evaluate them? There is no point in being stricter than necessary," Magnette told RTBF radio.

The latest series of social-distancing measures, decided by the Consultative Committee on Friday and published on Sunday in the Official Gazette, will not be eased before the end-of-year holidays, according to Public Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke.

The Best Christmas Gift

De Croo's comments come after federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke spoke out on the topic, making it clear that he saw no situation where rules would change.

Speaking on the RTL-TVi’s Sunday programme, “C’est pas tous les jours dimanche,” Vandenbroucke explained that, at Friday’s meeting, the Committee had set benchmarks for future decisions to ease the restrictions, but these benchmarks were far from being met.

“Let’s be clear on the figures. We agreed on Friday on a management strategy, on “indicators’,” the Flemish socialist said. “To begin the debate on easing restrictions, one of these indicators is that daily infections over two weeks must be lower than an average of 800,” and this must be maintained for three weeks.

“Avoiding a third wave [of infections] would be the best Christmas gift,” the minister said.

The latest measures, which will be in force from 1 December to 15 January 2021, include the reopening of non-essential businesses, museums and swimming pools.

Social-distancing rules will continue to apply for the end-of-year holiday season. Only isolated persons will be allowed to broaden their social bubble and receive two close contacts at the same time in their homes, either on the 24th of December or on the 25th.

For gatherings outdoors, the four-person rule – under which each resident is allowed to see four persons as long as they respect social-distancing measures – continues to apply.

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