Flanders is open to expanding Covid Safe Ticket, says Jambon
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Flanders is open to expanding Covid Safe Ticket, says Jambon

Credit: Belga

The Flemish government will look into how the Covid Safe Ticket (CST) could be applied to additional situations deemed “useful and necessary,” says Flanders’ Minister-President Jan Jambon.

If the CST use is expanded, it will be necessary for people in Flanders to show they have been vaccinated, have recently tested negative, or recovered from a Covid-19 infection in order to gain access to bars, restaurants and cultural venues.

“We are seeing whether the extension of the CST can be useful and necessary in certain circumstances,” Jambon’s spokesperson, Olivier Van Raemdonck, told De Standaard.

By Friday, when the Consultative Committee is scheduled to meet, the Flemish government “wants to be finished with that exercise,” he added.

In general, Flanders is sticking to its position that an expansion of the CST is not necessary for the region, according to the cabinet.

“But in places where we are little weaker [in terms of vaccination rate], such as the Flemish periphery where we fear an influx from Brussels, we must see if it can still be useful,” Van Raemdonck said. “The CST can provide us with a temporary service.”

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In recent weeks, several Flemish municipalities just outside of the Capital-Region, like Vilvoorde, stated that they would like to use the same system as Brussels to make sure that (unvaccinated and un-tested) people do not cross into Flanders to have a drink or a meal.

Similar to Flemish Deputy Minister-President Hilde Crevits’s previous statements, Jambon’s stance on the issue is noticeably more tempered than that of Bart De Wever, who is the president of the Flemish right-wing N-VA party, of which Jambon is also a member.

In a speech on Sunday, De Wever stressed Flanders’ high vaccination rate and spoke out in favour of a “careful and safe, but above all, a free Flanders.”

“It would be unfair if Flanders, due to the failure of other regions, were to remain subject to federal restrictions,” he said. “After one and a half years of sacrifices, it is time that Flemings regain their basic rights and freedoms.”

While the N-VA party has been very outspoken about the fact that it would rather exchange the CST for complete freedom as soon as possible, Jambon’s cabinet stressed to De Standaard that there are “no taboos.”

On Monday, the Flemish care umbrella organisations also asked to require the CST for visitors in hospitals and residential care centres “to ensure that hospitals are as Covid-free as possible.”

In response, Flemish Welfare Minister Wouter Beke stated that he would discuss the proposal within the Flemish government, and also asked the Flemish Care Taskforce for advice.

“The most important thing is not to end up into another lockdown again,” Beke stressed. “The CST is a tool that we should not throw away now if it can help to control the epidemic. If we have to use the CST to do that, so be it.”