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Coronavirus: What measures is Belgium discussing on Friday?

Several experts are advising to extend the measures for another month, until 3 May. Credit: Belga

Belgium’s National Security Council meeting to evaluate the measures taken to contain the further spread of the new coronavirus (Covid-19) measures has started on Friday at 2:00 PM.

The National Security Council, joined by the country regions’ Minister-Presidents, is meeting to evaluate “the various measures taken in the context of the fight against Covid-19, and their duration,” reads a statement on Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès’ website.

High on the agenda will be the decision of whether or not the current lockdown measures will be extended, and if so, until when. As the number of confirmed cases, hospitalisations and deaths keep climbing in Belgium, many people are also wondering if the measures currently in force will not only be extended, but also possibly tightened into an all-out lockdown.

At the moment, the current government’s measures, which were imposed about two weeks ago, are in force until 5 April. However, many experts and government officials have said it is “unlikely” the lockdown will be lifted by then, and the peak of the outbreak is expected in “the coming weeks.” Several experts are advising to extend the measures for another month, until 3 May, and re-evaluate them weekly.

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Questions are also rising about whether or not schools will be opened again after the Easter Holidays (from Monday 6 to Sunday 19 April), as teachers, as well as the Flemish government, are calling for a re-opening. However, whether or not that will be decided on Friday is not sure.

Additionally, both the federal police and the public have asked for a clarification of the rules on outdoor exercise, as the government’s indication that people should “stay close to their homes” was “much too vague.”

The police asked for a clearer measure, and proposed a 1-kilometre-radius around people’s homes, but that was “not a good solution,” according to Minister for Interior Affairs Pieter De Crem and experts see “no use” in imposing a distance limit. However, De Crem stressed that a fixed distance should be implemented “with a probability bordering on certainty.”

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times