As of tomorrow, grandparents may look after their grandchildren, under strict limits, according to Flemish welfare minister Wouter Beke.
Monday sees a number of measures coming into force to relax somewhat the lockdown that started back in min-March.
Among those measures, parents in need of child care who prefer not to send their children to school or crèche in current circumstances, may leave their children with their grandparents instead.
But the conditions are strict.
The grandparents in question must not be part of a group considered especially vulnerable to infection by the novel coronavirus (Covid-19). In other words, younger than 65 years, and not suffering from a number of medical conditions, including diabetes and high blood pressure.
The grandparents must also make up part of what has come to be known as the children’s “bubble” – a group of no more than four people who are allowed to visit the family and be visited by them, under rules introduced in an earlier phase of relaxation of the lockdown.
“This is a clarification, because there have been a lot of questions,” said Beke “It has been discussed with the virologists and this clarification now says that grandparents are allowed to look after their grandchildren. Vigilance is and remains required,” he said, “The bubble of four will continue to apply.”
Professor Erika Vlieghe, who chairs the expert committee on organising the exit strategy from the lockdown, admitted other conditions usually applied will be difficult to ensure in this case.
For example, the social distancing rule of maintaining a distance of 1.5m from another person is unlikely to be observed, and impossible to enforce, she admitted. The same goes, in the case of grandparents and grandchildren who have not had contact for more than nine weeks, for the rule on close contact.
“That’s the whole point,” she told the VRT. “You can’t take care of your grandchildren without touching them.”
The Brussels Times