A lot of time in past weeks has been devoted to what Belgium's Consultative Committee plans to discuss.
Tabled issues look like they will primarily concern travel, with a ban on non-essential journeys on the agenda, especially in light of the approaching carnival vacations (15-19 February). Measures for returning travellers could also change, with reports that extending the mandatory quarantine period to 14 days could also be up for discussion.
Tabled issues, however, are not the only changes people are hoping for. Here are the big issues that organisations, companies and independents are hoping could see change today.
Contact professions want answers: Hairdressers and beauticians, who have been forced to close their doors for almost three months as part of health measures, are asking for clarification on a reopening date for professions requiring close contacts with clients from the next Consultative Committee, saying that the current threshold for adjustment is "far too strict."
Bars want everyone to stick together: Bars and restaurants in Belgium want to begin reopening step by step from 1 March, according to CEO of Horeca Vlaanderen Matthias De Caluwe. “I hope that the federal government will announce an ambitious message on Friday, such as ‘stick together and on 1 March the hospitality industry will open again’."
Private Saunas want to reopen: Belgium's private saunas want to reopen next month, and are looking for approval from the committee to do so. "Since the beginning of the pandemic, the government has been lumping public saunas together with private saunas. But this comparison is inaccurate. If you go to a private sauna, you go there with your bubble and no other person is present," the federation explained.
Single Parents want bigger bubbles: Seven associations have called on the committee to ease bubble rules to allow single parents access to their support network "It's not a question of easing the health rules at all costs. But it is a matter of softening the daily life of families facing particular difficulties, just as it has been done for people living alone," said the general director of La Ligue des Familles, Christophe Cocu.
Belgium’s Consultative Committee will meet on Friday at 2:00 PM to evaluate the current situation and measures, and discuss a possible timeline for reopening several sectors that have been affected by the pandemic.
Despite the requests and hopes, a ministerial decree published after the previous Committee had already extended the current measures until 1 March, meaning anyone hoping for changes in February could be in for a disappointment.
Jules Johnston & Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times