The ministers of the Walloon regional government have been placed in quarantine after one of their number, Valérie De Bue (MR) tested positive for Covid-19.
The quarantine is a preventive measure until the ministers can be tested. De Bue had self-isolated since the beginning of the week while awaiting her test results.
The last time ministers gathered together was on Friday, when new minister Christophe Collignon took the oath of office to replace Pierre-Yves Dermagne (PS), who moved over to the federal government as vice-premier in charge of labour and economy.
De Bue herself was almost a casualty of the new federal government of fellow liberal Alexander De Croo (Open VLD). De Croo had appointed Mathieu Michel (MR), the brother of former PM Charles, to replace Denis Ducarme, on the nomination of MR president George-Louis Bouchez.
However Bouchez blundered by sending Ducarme to the government of Wallonia as a consolation prize, replacing De Bue, who is in charge of tourism and public function. That ignored the Walloon government quota of two female ministers to three men, and the transfer could not go ahead.
Bouchez received a dressing-down by the party managers, and will carry on in the presidency surrounded by a group of senior minders. Ducarme has become his party’s leader in the Walloon parliament, a serious demotion. De Bue remained in office.
“The last contacts with the government date from last Friday,” said a spokesperson for Walloon minister-president Elio di Rupo.
“At the swearing-in of Christophe Collignon the ministers met, and corona measures were observed. As a precaution, ministers are being tested today and have suspended their activities until the results are known.”
In normal circumstances, ministers of the Walloon government meet on Thursday. This week’s meeting will take place online.
They are also expected in the parliament from Monday for a week of deliberations culminating in the passing of budgetary adjustments. That will now depend on the results of ministers’ tests.