End of Covid crisis management phase could be near, Vandenbroucke says
Share article:
Share article:

End of Covid crisis management phase could be near, Vandenbroucke says

Closing times for bars may be lifted. Credit: Belga

Belgium could be nearing the end of the tunnel when it comes to coronavirus crisis management, Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke said ahead of Friday’s Consultative Committee.

In two days, the government’s core cabinet will gather again to discuss the epidemiological situation and possible relaxations during what Vandenbroucke called an “extra important meeting” which could be a “first step back to normal life”.

“It will perhaps signify the final stage of this crisis management phase during which we had to impose difficult but important measures,” he told RTL info on Wednesday.

Around 67% of all people in Belgium have been fully vaccinated, meaning it is nearing the threshold of 70%. Vandenbroucke had previously promised that Belgium would reach “the kingdom of freedom” at this stage.

He now stressed that it is not time yet to relax all measures at once, as the epidemiological situation in Belgium continues to remain unstable, especially in Brussels, where the vaccination coverage rate is lower, and travellers returning from red zones are resulting in cases rising.

Related News


However, Vandenbroucke said that the government could decide to end certain measures which no longer seem appropriate, for example, the closing time imposed on businesses in the catering industry or the number of people you can have in your home.

“These measures are less important today. I think that when you are in a café or restaurant, the fact that it is well ventilated is more important in the long term. Whether it’s at 11:00 PM, midnight or 2:00 AM. We want to focus on more structural measures,” he said.

Meanwhile, a recent report from the GEMS expert group, which advises the government on the coronavirus crisis, said that despite the high vaccination rollout in Belgium, certain measures including wearing facemasks and social distancing will still be needed during autumn and winter this year.

Expanding Covid Safe Ticket?

The further organisation of major events will also be a discussion point on Friday. Currently, Belgium’s Covid Safe Ticket (CST) can be applied to events of at least 1,500 people outdoors. From 1 September, the Covid Safe Ticket can also be used for indoor events.

“I believe that more freedom can be given to public events where currently there are social distancing measures, compulsory wearing of masks, provided that the Covid Safe Ticket is used,” said Vandenbroucke.

Within the government, there is a divide of opinions when it comes to expanding the CST system. On the one side, the Flemish socialist Vooruit party is calling for it to be used for weddings and other, smaller events.

On the other side of the argument, Flemish Minister-President Jan Jambon, as well as the Liberals and the Greens, are against the concept.

“It is going too far for me,” Jambon said, referring to a system such as that in France, where a Covid Pass is now also required for weddings or in bars and restaurants.

Vandenbroucke emphasised that, in any case, getting as many people as possible vaccinated, especially in Antwerp and Brussels, remains a priority.

Latest news

New Belgian video game aims to help children who stutter
A new video game by Belgian-American start-up Say It Labs aims to teach children with a stutter various techniques to improve their speech.  ...
More than 1 in 4 Belgians use mobile phones whilst driving
A recent European study into the use of mobile phones whilst driving highlights some alarming results: 26% of Belgians read or send messages on their ...
Belgium in Brief: Memories Of Masks
Belgium's experts are concerned with the rising coronavirus figures. One possible solution could be that, once again, masks are used more widely. ...
Museum Nights Fever returns to Brussels on Saturday night
After a break last year, Museum Nights Fever 2021 is back again with free visits to 32 museums hosting performances, music and other events. The ...
More than €1.5 billion injected into SNCB
More than €1.5 billion in additional funding has been injected into the Belgian railways, Federal Mobility Minister Georges Gilkinet told the House ...
Non-vaccinated applicants no longer welcome at ZNA hospitals in Antwerp
The Antwerp hospital group ZNA is only taking on new employees who have been vaccinated against the coronavirus, according to reporting from VRT. ...
Pharmacies prepare to administer more rapid antigen tests
From November, anyone presenting coronavirus symptoms for less than six days will be able to take a rapid antigen test in a pharmacy, announced the ...
Chocolate, Christmas, and cocaine
Do you consider yourself a news buff? Someone constantly on top of what's going on? Then maybe you have what it takes to ace The Brussels Times ...
Introduction of Covid Safe Ticket leads more in Brussels to get vaccinated
The introduction of the Covid Safe Ticket (CST) in the Brussels-Capital Region on 15 October seems to have led to a higher number of residents ...
More and more testimonies, and a second rally against sexual violence in Brussels
A second rally against sexual violence was held in the Brussels neighbourhood of Ixelles on Thursday evening, and a sister-rally was held ...
Over 1,000 Covid-19 hospitalisations for first time since early June
The number of patients hospitalised in Belgium as a result of the coronavirus has again exceeded 1,000, climbing to 1,032, according to figures ...
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 ...