Exit plan: Belgian PM faces criticism for Friday’s updates
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Exit plan: Belgian PM faces criticism for Friday’s updates

Credit: Belga

Belgian Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès received a lot of criticism for her communication about the coronavirus crisis in the Chamber on Thursday, specifically regarding the National Security Council’s press conference.

The criticism mainly centred around the late starting hour of the press conference on Friday evening, the many details, and the complicated presentation, according to the different political parties in the Chamber.

Additionally, the exit plan focused too much on the economy and too little on the lack of social contacts due to the lockdown, they said. “We will see our boss before we see our family, and safety will not be guaranteed in the workplace,” said Raoul Hedebouw of the far-left PVDA/PTB party.

“An exit strategy succeeds if the government does its part, and there is still a lot of work to be done,” said Meryame Kitir, group leader of the socialist party sp.a, referring to the confusion surrounding the face masks, the tests and the contact tracing. “The people are tired of the coronavirus, but what they are mostly tired of is the confusion and lack of clarity,” she added.

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“Chaos, surrealism and incompetence: that not only sums up the late press conference, but also the late policy of your government,” said Barbara Pas, group leader of the far-right Vlaams Belang party.

The Flemish rightwing N-VA party is pleased with the relaunch of the economy, “but the communication drowned in a sea of ambiguity,” said group leader Peter De Roover. “People are willing to follow the rules, but they will only do so if they understand the logic behind them, and that is lacking today,” he added.

“We have to listen to the criticism, and accept it, but above all, we will take it into account for the future,” Wilmès said, who added that the measures were working, but acknowledged that the communication last Friday could have been better.

The exit strategy is “a delicate and complex operation in which the functioning of our society has to be reinvented while at the same time safeguarding people’s health,” she said.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times

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