Following a unanimous vote in parliament on Thursday, it was decided the conditions for an epidemic emergency in Belgium are no longer met, resulting in it being ended.
The existence of an epidemic emergency is set out in the pandemic law and is declared by the King for a maximum of three months (it can later be extended by this period), which is done based on objective scientific data, following advice from the Federal Health Minister, and after consultation in the Council of Ministers and with the Regions.
"When we published the pandemic law, the outlook was positive. We had, therefore, hoped not to have to activate the law during this pandemic. Reality proved otherwise, and the epidemic emergency was declared in October 2021," said Home Affairs Minister Annelies Verlinden.
"Today, more than four months later, we can close this chapter. I am pleased that Parliament has voted to end the epidemic emergency. We go into spring with a good feeling."
In oktober kondigden we de epidemische noodsituatie af. Vandaag sluiten we dit hoofdstuk af. Ik dank iedereen, o.m. politie en lokale besturen, die de voorbije periode het beste van zichzelf gaf, en iedereen die zich aan de maatregelen hield. We gaan een mooie lente tegemoet!— Annelies Verlinden (@AnneliesVl) March 10, 2022
Tweet translation: "In October, we declared an epidemic emergency. Today we are closing this chapter. I would like to thank everyone, including the police and local authorities, who gave their best in the past period, and everyone who complied with the measures."
No longer than necessary
The declaring of an emergency situation means Belgium can take measures that are “necessary, appropriate, proportionate and limited in time” to prevent or limit the effect of the pandemic in the country, and allows governors and mayors to take additional measures if the local conditions require it.
However, in light of the improving situation in the hospitals, especially in ICUs, which also resulted in Belgium issuing code yellow and lifting restrictions, experts considered that "all criteria for the existence of an as set out in the pandemic law, are no longer met."
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"We have always said that we would not continue the measures, and the epidemic emergency, any longer than necessary. Today we keep our word. I thank Parliament for the initiative and the vote," Verlinden concluded. As a result, the current application of the law on pandemics was deactivated.