‘Switch to code orange’: Belgium should meet to discuss relaxations quickly

‘Switch to code orange’: Belgium should meet to discuss relaxations quickly
Credit: Belga

Belgium’s Consultative Committee should meet soon to discuss switching to “code orange” on the coronavirus barometer, according to Georges Gilkinet, Deputy Prime Minister for the Francophone green Ecolo party.

While Gilkinet told Le Soir that the Committee would meet to discuss this on Friday 11 February, the cabinet of Prime Minister Alexander De Croo told The Brussels Times that a date for the next meeting has not yet been decided. The Prime Minister is the only one who can call such a meeting.

“The Prime Minister is in contact with the Minister-Presidents to determine the exact moment,” said De Croo’s spokesperson Tom Meulenbergs. More clarity about when the meeting will take place is expected to be given early next week.

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In the Flemish Parliament on Thursday, the region’s Minister-President Jan Jambon stressed that it was up to De Croo to decide on a meeting. “But something in me says that he is not going to convene the Consultative Committee until the parameters allow for relaxations.”

The barometer can only switch to code orange when the number of new hospital admissions drops below 150 per day. Currently, over 350 daily hospitalisations are still registered per day. Meanwhile, the other condition is met, as fewer than 500 patients (432) are currently admitted to hospitals’ intensive care units.

At the same time, the number of infections is dropping sharply, something which the authorities said they would take into account when determining the barometer’s colour code.

‘Time to take a step forward’

For Gilkinet, the Omicron variant and its impact on the figures open the door for relaxations. “Saying that the Covid Safe Ticket (CST) and these exceptional measures ‘must not remain in force even one day longer than necessary’ cannot be just a slogan.”

The day of putting those words – said by Prime Minister Alexander De Croo at the previous Consultative Committee press conference – into action is approaching, Gilkinet said, calling for “an acceleration” in a return to normal.

“Normal life means that the Belgian population regains all its freedoms as soon as possible. That moment has come,” he added. “We are going to continue to monitor Sciensano’s daily statistics, but it is time to take a step forward.”

An in-depth explanation of the coronavirus barometer’s different phases and what they mean can be found here.

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