'Still too early' to take new federal measures, says Verlinden

'Still too early' to take new federal measures, says Verlinden
The number of infringements of the Covid-19 measures dropped significantly. Credit: Belga

Even though the coronavirus figures in Belgium are rising again, it is "still too early" for the federal government to take extra measures, says Interior Affairs Minister Annelies Verlinden.

The measures that the Consultative Committee announced at its last meeting, including the renewed face mask obligation and the introduction of the Covid Safe Ticket (CST), are enough for now, Verlinden explained on Flemish radio on Wednesday.

"I think, first of all, we all have the task of following up on those measures properly so that the spread of the virus can be limited," she said, adding that this is also the consensus reached with the experts.

Just like several experts and Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke, however, Verlinden also stressed the need for clarity regarding the recommendation to telework.

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"Just think of the Netherlands. If they say that teleworking is recommended, people work at home half the time. So, there is also less traffic and public transport is used less," she said. "These are things that we can perhaps clarify further, and that will certainly be on the agenda of the Consultative Committee next week."

In the meantime, Federal Minister for Public Administration and Public Enterprises Petra De Sutter also called on all federal civil servants to work from home as much as possible.

"For me, this is a matter of solidarity with the nurses and doctors in the hospitals and with the most vulnerable," De Sutter said.

Additionally, while Verlinden is not against the fact that some mayors are taking stricter measures in their municipality - such as Knokke-Heist, which decided to ban all organised indoor activities - she stressed that they have to think about it "very carefully and proportionately."

"We do not want a patchwork of rules and measures, because then it becomes difficult for people, and that is not good for support," she said. "It is not easy for the police either. But of course, the mayors and the governors know the situation on the ground very well. And if necessary, they can take measures."

The coronavirus situation and current rules will next be discussed at the Consultative Committee on Friday 19 November, but Verlinden does not rule out that the authorities will meet sooner, if the figures continue to worsen.

"We still see the curves rise, also for the hospitals. So we are following up on it," she added. "If we need to move faster, we will."

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