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Consultative Committee meeting today: what we already know

Health minister Frank Vandenbroucke (left) and prime minister Alexander De Croo. Credit: © Belga

The latest meeting of Belgium’s Consultative Committee is expected to start today at 2:00 PM, with new measures on the table, but no guarantees anything will change.

Despite initial calls to ease measures for the end-of-year period, experts and politicians alike have stated that such decisions are unlikely, as the focus of the meeting is expected to be on enforcing the rules already in force.

It will take place at Palais d’Egmont in Brussels and is expected to last for several hours. A press conference will follow, with reports that it could come as late as 7:00 PM.

“We will make the policy stronger, with a better framework, strengthen it where necessary, and implement it everywhere vigorously,” Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke told the House on Thursday afternoon.

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With the focus on motivating the population and a framework for enforcing the measures, no major changes to the current rules are expected today.

The enforcement of the mandatory quarantine and test for travellers returning from red zones will be discussed, as will the checks on the teleworking obligation, reports VRT.

On Wednesday, Federal Employment Minister Pierre-Yves Dermagne said that checks on teleworking would be “stepped up.”

Earlier this week, Belgium’s different public prosecutors already announced that the fines for people at lockdown parties would be increased to €750 for attendees, and €4,000 for organisers.

At the end of November, the Consultative Committee decided to extend the measures until at least 15 January, and no major changes are expected before then.

Relaxing any rules will not be an option before Belgium reaches the thresholds of 800 new infections and 75 hospital admissions per day, Vandenbroucke announced then.

In the House on Thursday, he said that the period between Christmas and New Year would be “a very nice opportunity” to start a new decline in the country’s infection figures.

“The schools are closed and people are at home,” said the minister. “By limiting our contacts as much as possible now, we can give ourselves, the healthcare sector and the young people a very nice Christmas present.”

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times