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Coronavirus: Get ready for new Belgian restrictions

© Belga

In the light of today’s coronavirus figures showing no reversal of the last ten days’ trend of increased figures for new infections, prime minister Sophie Wilmès has called together the members of the national security council for a meeting tomorrow to consider the government’s next move.

At its meeting on Wednesday, the council – which brings together representatives of regional and federal governments together with whatever experts are considered helpful – declined to take new measures to relax the few restrictions left over from the lockdown, particularly the limit on mass events like concerts and music festivals.

Although the sector is in desperate need of relief, the reversal of the downward trend in infections, already evident when the council met on Wednesday, led them to leave things unchanged. The prime minister’s press conference later was described as “a announcement of no announcement”.

Tomorrow’s meeting, by contrast, is expected to consider possible new measures to tackle the increase in the spread of the virus. A meeting was originally planned for this coming Thursday. Whether that will now go ahead, or be superseded by tomorrow’s meeting, remains unclear.

The average daily number of new cases rose on Friday to 114. Today’s figures show an increase of 127 – the tenth daily increase in a row.

We need to prepare ourselves mentally for scaling back a number of measures,” said biostatistician Geert Molenberghs of the university of Leuven.

Quite what measures might be taken to combat the negative trend would be fruitless to speculate on. But all along, since the government first started dismantling the lockdown imposed in March, prime minister Wilmès has made it clear at every new phase of deconfinement – and we are now in Phase Four – that each new relaxation is reversible.

Working backwards, Phase Four involved swimming pools, amusement parks, cinemas and function halls. Phase Three saw the reopening of bars and restaurants.

Those relaxations would seem to be the logical place to start.

Alan Hope
The Brussels Times