Coronavirus: Flemish government offers free volunteer insurance
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Coronavirus: Flemish government offers free volunteer insurance

Residents are nevertheless urged to "use their common sense" and respect social-distancing rules, a government spokesperson said. Credit: PxHere

The Flemish government met exceptionally this morning to discuss a number of initiatives to address the current coronavirus crisis.

The measures are a response to the growing number of citizen initiatives aimed at encouraging people to help one another.

Unlike those who are trying to cut corners, there is a huge number of people involved in initiatives they set up themselves within the broad lines of the regulations, to give shape to a warmer Flanders,” said minister-president Jan Jambon (N-VA).

The main new measure involves extending the provisions of the system of free volunteer insurance to individuals occupied in helping others. At present, free liability insurance is offered to volunteers working within associations, covering them for civil liability, legal representation and physical injury.

Now individuals can also apply for free insurance, even for simple acts like walking the neighbour’s dog. The application form (in Dutch) is here.

We reckon we can cover about 10,000 people,” said minister for social affairs Bart Somers (Open VLD). The insurance lasts until 3 April, for actions between 08.00 and 20.00, but does not cover the holder for infection.

To make the growing number of civil initiatives easier to follow, the government has launched the hashtag #vlaanderenhelpt (Flanders is helping).

There are a lot of people with really good ideas,” Jambon said. “By helping to share them, we can encourage others to take part and see to it that the warmest side of Flanders comes to the fore.”

Finally, the government is to create a medical reserve, as in the military sense.

Anyone with a medical or nursing background can join by contacting the government health department.

We realise that the real stress-test will arrive in the coming weeks, when we need to have enough people in the hospitals, rest homes and home-care services,” said regional health minister Wouter Beke (CD&V).

We are practically demanding the impossible from people at the moment. And they are only people, and vulnerable to viruses. About 135 people have offered their services already, and the list has been passed on to hospitals, nursing homes and family doctor practices, for them to consult if they have a shortage of staff.”

Alan Hope
The Brussels Times