Share article:
Share article:

How Belgium’s ‘phase 4’ is different from a lockdown

Credit: Belga/Jules Johnston

On Friday evening, Belgium announced ‘Phase 4’ – meaning strict measures such as bar closures, only one close contact per person, and a curfew – but stopped short of calling it a lockdown.

Several of Belgium’s new measures, such as the shutdown of bars and restaurants, the ban on selling alcohol after 8:00 PM and the obligation to telework where possible, overlap strongly with those introduced as a “partial lockdown” by the Netherlands earlier this week.

However, despite going one step further than the Dutch approach by also imposing a curfew between midnight and 5:00 AM, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo did not speak of a (partial) lockdown.

The essence of a lockdown is that people stay at home, and only go outside for essential reasons, according to virologist and interfederal Covid-19 spokesperson Steven Van Gucht, who disagrees with the Dutch word choice.

Related News:

 

Belgium’s measures are in place “precisely to avoid another lockdown like the one in March,” he told The Brussels Times. “In that case, you can only leave your house if you have an essential profession, if you need groceries, or if you need medical care,” he said.

However, neither Belgium nor the Netherlands has issued such a stay-at-home order. “The shops, for example, are still open. Leaving the house to go shopping for clothes is definitely not an essential journey,” Van Gucht said.

A lockdown would be “the ultimate emergency solution,” he said, adding that it is a scenario that Belgium wants to avoid.

“In the end, [a lockdown] is a failure of the recommendation of restricting people’s contacts,” Van Gucht said. “If that system fails, a lockdown is the only thing left.”

While no further information about the different phases has been given during the press conference, Phase 4 reportedly corresponds to the second-to-last alert level on Belgium’s coming “coronavirus barometer,” according to Het Nieuwsblad. The barometer was expected to be launched together with the new measures on Friday, but it was not fully ready yet, the ministers said.

A full overview of all measures can be found here.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times

Latest news

Aggression against railway staff more than doubled since 2020
In the first three quarters of 2021, the number of reports of aggression against national railway company SNCB's staff has more than doubled compared ...
Intervention hotline 1722 activated following bad weather warnings
Following bad weather warnings from Belgium's Royal Meteorological Institute of Belgium (RMI), the Federal Public Service (FPS) Home Affairs has ...
Thousands march in Brussels to raise awareness of violence against women
More than 3,000 people took to the streets of Brussels on Sunday afternoon for a national march to raise awareness of violence against women in ...
Efficacy of vaccines against new variant known in a few weeks, virologist says
The efficacy of the current coronavirus vaccines against the new Omicron variant will be clear in one to two weeks, Belgian virologist Marc Van Ranst ...
Scientists could have communicated better during pandemic, survey shows
The majority of Flemish people continue to trust scientists, however, only half of them feel scientists communicated understandably during the ...
Closing borders and new travel restrictions: Countries react to Omicron variant
As more cases of the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus are being reported across the world, more and more countries are imposing tougher travel ...
Several rush hour train services to be scrapped from Monday
Up to ten peak time trains to and from Brussels will be temporarily cancelled starting from Monday, Belgian railway company SNCB announced this ...
Europe’s largest vintage clothes store is in Ghent this weekend
Europe's largest pop-up store for second-hand clothes is once again setting up shop in Ghent on Sunday, offering more than five tonnes of vintage ...
Animal welfare in EU’s pig meat sector: What’s wrong?
EU has put into place legislation to ensure that animal welfare conditions are respected in its agricultural policy but the breaches of its ...
‘Not feasible’: Doctors refuse to follow new testing strategy
Doctors have warned they will not follow the government's adapted testing strategy which would see vaccinated people who were in close contact with a ...
Flanders introduces ‘invisible’ speed cameras
New digital speed cameras that are essentially invisible to the road user are being introduced on various roads and motorways in Flanders, Flemish ...
Warnings issued for slippery roads across Belgium
Drivers have been asked to watch out for slippery roads from Saturday afternoon until Sunday evening, as snow and cold temperatures are expected ...