Belgium should consider extending the use of the Covid Safe Ticket to provide extra protection for the population and push up its vaccination rate, like in France, according to biostatistician Geert Molenberghs.
Since the Covid Safe Ticket was introduced to allow large events to take place without face masks or social distancing measures, using it to grant people access to other venues such as bars or restaurants has been a topic of discussion.
"This is first and foremost a political debate," Molenberghs told Het Laatste Nieuws. "But in countries like France, where the Covid Pass is very often used, we see that the vaccination rate is rising sharply. Also in difficult regions."
Belgium could start using the same system of requiring the Covid Safe Ticket in a lot more places, instead of only at events, to make sure they can happen safely, according to a proposal by president of the Flemish socialist Vooruit party, Conner Rousseau.
"At some point, we are going to have to show that there are benefits to getting vaccinated," he said on Flemish television on Wednesday evening. "That is good for you and for society."
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By requiring the Ticket in more places, Belgium could make sure that possible stricter rules in case of a fourth wave hitting in autumn will only apply to non-vaccinated people, while those who have been vaccinated will not be deprived of their freedoms again, Rousseau said.
It would have a "double positive effect," according to Molenberghs, as it would not only push up the vaccination rate but also ensure that the activities that can take place are a lot safer.
In the meantime, president of the Flemish right-wing N-VA party Bart De Wever stated that Belgium should just lift all remaining coronavirus measures now, but according to Molenberghs, "it is still a bit too early" for that.
"Of course, we have to make a distinction between the different regions in our country," he said. "In Flanders, we are indeed in a better position, but our red colour on the European coronavirus map is also a wake-up call."
On Thursday, Flanders became the last of Belgium's regions to change from the less-affected orange to a red code in the map's latest update, meaning that the whole country is now coloured red.
"Besides, we are not yet seeing the results of the recent relaxations. In colleges and higher education, for example, there will be more contacts at the end of September," Molenberghs pointed out.
"If the figures turn out to be better than expected, more might be possible in Flanders," he said. "But caution remains key."