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Brussels holds off on tightening coronavirus measures

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There will be no tightening of coronavirus measures in the Brussels Region, given that the situation is not as alarming as it was during the spring, regional officials decided on Thursday.

Following an experts meeting on Thursday, the cabinet of Minister-President Rudi Vervoort decided that the coronavirus situation in Brussels schools, hospitals and nursing homes remained stable and “similar to that in other parts of the country.”

“For the reasons cited above, the regional scientific committee can see little reason, currently, to modify the current framework,” a press statement said.

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Respecting the measures already in place, mostly imposed from a national level except for the blanket face mask mandate, will remain “crucial” to cap the rise in infection numbers in the Belgian capital.

On Thursday, the regional incidence rate stood at 168.8 infections per 100.000 inhabitants, a number well above the 50/100,000 alarm threshold that triggered the face mask requirement.

New Covid-19 cases are currently appearing mostly among people aged 20 to 49, while only 5% of new infections are recorded among people aged 70 or more, according to the press statement.

“Nursing homes are also not seeing the worrying situations that we knew in the spring and hospital admission numbers, in absolute numbers, are also well below those seen in March.”

The decision to hold off on any tightening of the measures comes after regional leaders gathered an expert committee whose composition remains unclear. A spokesperson for Vervoort did not reply to multiple requests for comment regarding the make-up of the committee.

Regional leaders’ ‘wait-and-see’ move was also motivated by the fact that a new National Security Council (NSC) meeting is expected to take place next week, during which federal and regional officials will review the situation across the country.

Ahead of that meeting, imposing new measures in the Brussels-Capital Region appeared “unnecessary,” the press statement said, adding that a meeting with Brussels’ 19 mayors will nevertheless be organised on Monday, just ahead of the NSC.

Gabriela Galindo
The Brussels Times