Speaking ahead of the Consultative Committee, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo has said that there will be “no taboos” in terms of possible measures to be taken to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
In the Chamber on Thursday afternoon, De Croo confirmed that ministers would meet again on Friday from 9:00 AM to discuss new measures as the coronavirus situation has not improved and the burden on the hospitals remains very high.
“The pressure is enormous, and not only in healthcare. Look at education. How do we cope with that? The best method remains a systematic approach,” he said.
“Pointing fingers does not help us at all; we must be able to work together as one,” he said. “And let it be clear, that means that everyone will have to play their part. At a time like this, there can be no taboos.”
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— Alexander De Croo (@alexanderdecroo) December 2, 2021
De Croo stressed that keeping one sector open at the cost of another cannot be done, referring to the relatively relaxed measures that so far have been imposed on the education sector.
Whether these will be the last measures that the Consultative Committee will have to take is “hard to say,” he said, as the virus “is unpredictable, attacks us at our weakest points, and changes constantly.”
“The reality is that at a time like this, additional measures are still needed, but that does not change the fact that the vaccination works, is effective and protects us incredibly well,” De Croo said.
Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke agreed with De Croo, stating that “a serious society cannot allow its healthcare system to collapse.”
“That is why we have to take measures, without taboos. The dykes have to be strong enough tomorrow. It cannot be the intention to convene a fourth Consultative Committee,” he added.
“Politicians must do everything they can, even if it is not easy. Irrespective of previously adopted positions, without taboos,” stressed Vandenbroucke. “Just doing what has to be done. And the GEMS report is the starting point for that.”
The recommendation in that GEMS report, drawn up by the expert group advising the authorities at the request of Corona Commissioner Pedro Facon, were already reported on by several local media on Thursday afternoon.
The report states that the situation is “particularly serious” as the infection rate in Belgium’s primary schools is currently the highest in Europe, according to De Standaard.
For that reason, the GEMS suggests closing kindergartens and primary schools for ten days and a lowering of the minimum age for the face mask obligation to 6 years old.
Secondary schools should only have one day of physical education per week, with distance learning during the other days.
All indoor activities and large outdoor activities should be scrapped, and Christmas markets could only be held under strict conditions.
Additionally, the closing hour for the hospitality industry should also be brought forward from 11:00 PM to 8:00 PM and the social bubbles of five contacts per person should also be reintroduced.
Nothing has been decided yet but these suggestions will be on the table of the Consultative Committee on Friday morning. Following the meeting, a press conference is expected to be held to discuss the latest changes to the rules.