The Consultative Committee should meet again soon to take extra coronavirus measures, specifically to temporarily shut down indoor events, says Flemish Minister-President Jan Jambon.
At last week's Committee, the authorities decided that indoor events could continue as long as all attendees were seated and wore a face mask. But as the figures continue to rise, Jambon stated that he wants to go further.
"I am very concerned about what is happening today in hospitals, especially in intensive care units, and so I think it would be wise for the Consultative Committee to meet early and take additional measures, to stop indoor activities in the recreational sector," he told reporters ahead of a Parliamentary debate on Wednesday.
If it were up to Jambon, all indoor recreational activities – concerts, cultural events, theatre, fairs and indoor youth camps – would be scrapped until at least 15 December, he said.
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Jambon specified that it would only concern events that involve large groups – not the hospitality industry, where groups of a maximum of six people can sit at a table.
"I know that is very unfortunate for the sectors involved," he said, adding that it is "only logical that we then let the support measures continue as well."
However, this has to be done now "so we can celebrate Christmas and New Year in a more or less normal way. With what is happening today in intensive care, I think these additional measures are really necessary."
Over the past 14 days, the Consultative Committee took a number of measures, but Jambon pointed to the fact that even the most pessimistic scenarios of the models presented to the government in November are still being exceeded today.
'A strong extra measure'
According to virologist Steven Van Gucht, there is a chance that the number of Covid-19 patients in intensive care in Belgian hospitals will remain below 1,000 if the current slowdown in new coronavirus infections continues.
"You can see that the increase in new hospitalisation keeps getting smaller and smaller, so it is possible that within this week, or by next week, the situation could stabilise," he told The Brussels Times earlier on Wednesday.
"[1,000] is still a lot, and let’s say that is not the most optimistic scenario, but this is also not the worst-case scenario," Van Gucht added.
For Jambon, "a strong extra measure" would help to bring the curve down. "And I think this is one of them," he stressed.
When asked if Flanders could possibly introduce this kind of measure itself, he responded that the Flemish Government has so far always worked through the Consultative Committee and does not have the authority to take this measure independently.