Pandemic law passes first reading in parliament following lengthy debates
Share article:
Share article:

Pandemic law passes first reading in parliament following lengthy debates

Credit: Belga

The Chamber’s interior committee approved the government’s pandemic bill at first reading on Monday evening after lengthy debates.

The bill should provide a stronger legal basis for restrictive coronavirus fighting measures taken in the context of the health crisis after a growing number of critics argued the law currently followed by the government deals with emergency situations such as flooding or a major fire, and not a one-year situation.

“Another interesting debate in the Home Affairs Committee on the pandemic law. All articles of the bill were discussed and approved during the first reading. On to the continuation of the parliamentary process,” Federal Home Affairs Minister Annelies Verlinden said on Twitter following the reading.


Although all articles were voted through, several amendments were tabled and approved by the majority, and a second reading of the report was requested, which means another meeting will take place next week before the text will be adopted and sent to the plenary session.

The opposition maintained its open hostility towards the text, as several MPs felt that it was in fact a question of giving the government special powers by sidelining parliament.

The importance of the pandemic law has increased following an order by the Brussels court of first instance, which told the state to give a legal basis to these measures or to lift “all coronavirus measures” within 30 days.

The court of appeal in Brussels last week granted an extension to the deadline for the government to introduce a new pandemic law, allowing it to escape penalties imposed by the previous decision from the court of first instance.

The final bill provides that health measures are “in principle taken by royal decree” unless urgency requires them to be taken by ministerial decree.

The federal government should also consult with the governments of the federated entities beforehand if the measures are likely to have an impact on policy areas that fall within their competence unless there is extreme urgency.

The deadline for parliament to confirm the royal decree declaring or maintaining the epidemic emergency was also extended to 15 days, thus allowing for a parliamentary debate.

Before the first hearing in the Chamber, the Parliament conducted a series of hearings and submitted some 600 pages of opinions on the text, and the Council of State gave its opinion on the text, leading the government to make some adjustments.

The Brussels Times

Latest news

Experts call for more widespread use of masks as figures rise
As coronavirus figures continue to rise, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo has suggested that people return to wearing masks when indoors with ...
Belgium wants to recover €420 million in wrongfully paid out coronavirus aid
The Belgian State intends to recover €420 million of unduly paid Covid-19 aid, La Libre Belgique reported on Thursday. The electronic Council of ...
Why the fight for transgender rights is polarising Europe 
Year after year, Samuel De Schepper would ask Santa Claus to bring him a penis for Christmas. Born female and attending an all girl’s Catholic ...
New offshore wind farm officially opened
Despite being operational since the end of 2020, the SeaMade offshore wind farm was officially inaugurated on Wednesday by Prime Minister Alexander ...
Contact tracers have no time for calls, only texts, amid rising cases
Contract tracers will no longer make phone calls to the high-risk contacts of people who test positive for the coronavirus beginning from Wednesday, ...
Belgium holds on to top spot in FIFA rankings despite recent losses
Once again, Belgium's Red Devils have held onto their position at the top of the world football rankings, according to an update released by the ...
Proximus pushes for high-speed internet in Brussels and Wallonia
Fifteen municipalities in Wallonia should soon have access to high-speed internet through the rollout of fibre optics in the region, telecoms giant ...
Why Belgium is regulating sex work
After decades of confusing rules and hypocritical policy, Belgium is finally regulating sex work by removing prostitution from the criminal law. ...
World’s largest chocolate warehouse opens in Flanders
On Thursday, Barry Callebaut – the largest global chocolate processor and manufacturer – opened the world's largest chocolate warehouse in Lokeren, ...
Belgium in Brief: Equal Opportunity To Dance
There's a phrase where I'm from, more often said in jest nowadays, but it came to my mind this morning: "Ye dancin'?" (Are you dancing?), one ...
Farmer discovers cocaine in banana boxes bought in Brussels
A Flemish farmer who purchased boxes of bananas at the market in Brussels on Tuesday came home to discover large amounts of cocaine packed among the ...
Changes to speed cameras increase likelihood of a ticket
Changes to the way speed cameras work in Flanders and Wallonia will increase the likelihood of receiving a ticket when cars pass them above the ...