What is on the agenda of today’s Consultative Committee?

What is on the agenda of today’s Consultative Committee?
Credit: Belga

Belgium’s Consultative Committee will meet again this afternoon to discuss the long-awaited coronavirus barometer and a medium-term strategy to manage the pandemic in the country.

The Consultative Committee will meet this afternoon and will hold a press conference to announce its decisions afterwards, a spokesperson for Prime Minister Alexander De Croo confirmed to The Brussels Times.

Major relaxations are not expected from the Committee tomorrow, as De Croo made clear in the Chamber on Thursday afternoon that the focus of the meeting will be on making sure that the coronavirus barometer is finally approved and implemented.

The tool will be used to determine which measures will apply in the culture, hospitality and sports sectors, depending on the epidemiological situation. Flemish Minister-President Jan Jambon has repeatedly stated that he is not a fan of the idea, but understands the necessity.

It has reportedly been decided that the barometer will use three colours (green, orange and red) to indicate changes to Belgium’s coronavirus strategy; but the exact thresholds, conditions and measures per phase are expected to be the subject of a long discussion today.

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Earlier this week, Jambon also stated that he wants to “iron out certain anomalies” in the current rules for the cultural sector, such as upping the maximum capacity for venues and making sure that amateur theatre companies can not only perform but also rehearse.

In practice, this means that some small sector-specific relaxations will likely be announced today, even if the ministers decide that the country is in the red phase on the barometer. In any case, the Flemish hospitality industry is calling on the Committee to postpone the current 23:00 closing hour for bars to 01:00.

In the meantime, virologist Steven Van Gucht has stated that it is still “a little too early” for big relaxations as the figures are still rising quickly, but also said that the decreasing number of ICU patients in Belgian hospitals means that “we can be hopeful for the future.

Additionally, the Consultative Committee will also look into updating the Covid Safe Ticket (CST) now that the campaign for booster doses is entering its final phase, announced Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke on Wednesday. It seems that the ministers have as good as decided that a booster dose will soon become necessary for a valid CST, but the question is when this condition will take effect.

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