"Four weeks of hell better than four seasons of purgatory,” says Belgian economist

"Four weeks of hell better than four seasons of purgatory,” says Belgian economist
Credit: Belga

Taking stricter coronavirus fighting measures now for a short period of time is the best way to avoid damage later, according to former BNP-Paribas-Fortis economist Peter De Keyzer.

He called for the government to impose tighter restrictions after Wednesday’s Consultative Committee, which was brought forward from Friday as a result of the increasing coronavirus figures.

“People don't like it that measures are tightened, but people don't like the current measures either. Better four weeks of hell now, than four seasons of purgatory’, he said during "De Afspraak" on Canvas.

He said that in these situations, panicking as quickly as possible is good, because “every day that you lose because you don’t make decisions is actually equivalent to a week's delay in stabilising the pandemic.”

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“We've seen this in previous waves, if there's a lesson to be learned from this, it's that we need to panic as soon as possible,” De Keyzer said.

He emphasised that taking this step of locking down the country is only necessary because the rest of the policies and steps taken by the government, such as encouraging public motivation and the track and trace system, the testing strategy, mandatory quarantine, failed.

On Tuesday, virologist Steven Van Gucht said that imposing further restrictions would ‘be appropriate’ considering the rising figures, but warned of the economic cost that would come with a full lockdown.

However, De Keyzer said that, if infections are rising dramatically, people will go outside and go to the shops less, which will also have an effect on the economy.

He added that, if “we don't do anything now and you indeed stay on such a plateau and that's the whole summer, and then back in September, and so on, then you're going to spend another year with restrictions on freedom without any perspective."

Lauren Walker

The Brussels Times

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