Introduce 1G policy to only recognise vaccinated people, say Flemish liberals

Introduce 1G policy to only recognise vaccinated people, say Flemish liberals
Credit: Belga

Prime Minister Alexander De Croo’s home party – Flemish liberal Open Vld – wants regulations in Belgium to be altered so that only those who are fully vaccinated can participate in public life.

In technical terms, this would be a 1G (rather than Belgium’s current 3G) policy and would mean that only people who are up-to-date with their vaccinations could join in public life. Open Vld endorses the creation of a new vaccination certificate as soon as the booster campaign is completed in early spring.

“I fear we cannot go any other way,” Open Vld chair Egbert Lachaert told De Morgen.

In Dutch, the three Gs in 3G stand for ‘gevaccineerd’ (vaccinated), ‘genezen’ (recovered) en ‘getest’ (tested). A 2G policy rules out the option to get tested and a 1G policy also excludes a recovery certificate.

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Within the Open Vld party, a big debate about a possible vaccination obligation was held last week – something that the liberals have always opposed.

“As Prime Minister De Croo has said more than once: we do not see the point in tying someone up to give them a shot,” Lachaert said. “A liberal cannot support something like that. It is also practically unfeasible. That is why a 1G policy is the best solution.”

On Twitter, he clarified that “everyone is free to choose to be vaccinated or not, but that choice has an impact on the freedom of others if you meet with them in public afterwards.”

“Liberals must stand for the freedom for all. Freedom of choice for one should not become an obstacle to the freedom of another.”

The new vaccination certificate should then replace the current Covid Safe Ticket (CST) and grant people access to bars and restaurants, large events, sports competitions and cultural performances, among others.

“This could possibly be introduced with a transitional period of six months via 2G, which would also allow recovery certificates to still be recognised for a while,” Lachaert said. “Continuing to work with Covid tests seems wrong to us. It is a signal that you should not have to be vaccinated.”

Vaccination obligation?

Since summer, Belgium has been working with a 3G policy for the CST, but discussions about making vaccination mandatory have been held for a while now.

During the Consultative Committee last week, it was decided that the Federal Parliament would hold a debate about a possible obligation after the Christmas holidays. Corona Commissioner Pedro Facon is preparing a report that will highlight the practical, legal and ethical objections.

Last weekend, one of Germany’s top virologists Christian Drosten argued in the Süddeutsche Zeitung for a 1G policy as part of the solution to curb the highly infectious Omicron variant.

Yet Belgian virologist Marc Van Ranst is more nuanced: “From a purely virological point of view, it is a good idea, but I also see the disadvantages. It will create resistance and even more polarisation about the vaccination campaign, while a 1G policy will still have leaks,” he told De Morgen. “People will still have to wear a face mask. You get a lot of trouble for little health gain.”

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