‘Too early to say’ what Belgium’s second lockdown will look like
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    ‘Too early to say’ what Belgium’s second lockdown will look like

    Brussels during the lockdown. Credit: The Brussels Times/Jules Johnston

    It is “too early to say” what a second – possibly localised – lockdown in Belgium would look like if the coronavirus figures continue to increase, according to the National Crisis Centre, but several scenarios are being studied.

    The decision about a possible second lockdown will be taken at multiple levels, according to Yves Stevens, spokesperson for the Crisis Centre.

    If or when such a second lockdown would be implemented, or what it will look like, will depend on analyses made by experts. “Parameters such as the number of infections and hospital admissions will be at the basis of this,” Stevens told The Brussels Times. “But right now, it is too early to say,” he added.

    “We are still in the federal phase, so implementing a new lockdown would happen after consultation with the local authorities at the federal level,” he said, adding that provincial governors will also play an important role.

    “The intention is to find out where new infections are taking place, and then to intervene as locally as possible,” Stevens said, adding that measures will be “proportional to the local situation.”

    Everything depends on the situation, according to Stevens. “If we detect an outbreak in one region or sector, for example, that is a different scenario than if there is a sharp increase in infections across the country,” he said.

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    A new national lockdown, however, would not be desirable and may no longer be feasible in terms of the public support it requires, according to Interior Minister Pieter De Crem. There are “many reasons” not to enter another nationwide lockdown, according to him, “but the economic importance plays a big role.

    “A draft text that forms the basis for a roadmap to roll out such a smaller lockdown if required, is currently being finalised,” De Crem’s spokesperson, Wouter Indemans, told The Brussels Times. “The next few days will be used to discuss that draft text with the right bodies and at the right levels,” he added.

    The Group of Experts for the Exit Strategy (GEES) will be a part of those discussions. On Wednesday, a GEES report already stated that new measures should be as targeted as possible if a second wave occurs.

    Daycares, kindergartens and primary schools, for example, should remain open as much as possible, the experts agreed. And if they were to close at some point, they should also be the first to reopen.

    Such a small-scale lockdown could take place at neighbourhood level or even for a specific building, according to De Crem.

    The GEES, however, also agreed that the areas where measures would be restricted should not be too small either, to avoid confusion. The provincial level could be a good compromise, they proposed.

    Maïthé Chini
    The Brussels Times