Second lockdown would not be 'smartest solution' for Belgium

Second lockdown would not be 'smartest solution' for Belgium
Brussels during lockdown in March. Credit: Jules Johnston/The Brussels Times

Belgium's Consultative Committee announced stricter measures on Friday, but did not announce a second lockdown because that would not be the smartest solution, according to Flemish Minister-President Jan Jambon

"A lockdown would be the simplest solution, but the simplest measures are not always the smartest ones," said Jambon, following the announcement of extra restrictions for sports, culture, youth movements and higher education.

"I think that we would be faced with a great many problems that would drag us on for years to come [if we announced a lockdown], and so we are going to proceed in a cautious manner," he said, adding that carefully balancing the different parameters is a far more difficult exercise.

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He said that there is no reason to close an entire zoo, for example, if visitors wear a mask and keep their distance when walking around outside. "Indoors, the risk is greater, and so we closed that down," he said.

Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said that the lockdown in March and April was necessary, in part because "we did not know then what we know now" and that we can be smarter this time.

Earlier this week, several experts called for a lockdown, including microbiologist and former Sciensano spokesperson Emmanuel André, who said that it was the only option Belgium had left, and virologist Marc Van Ranst who tweeted that "a short strict lockdown" of about four weeks would avoid "a much longer semi-lockdown that would eventually exhaust and frustrate everyone."

"No matter what you call it, these are very serious measures to ensure that the essentials, such as education, can still take place," De Croo said, adding that the measures currently in force should not be underestimated.

"There is a curfew throughout the country, alcohol may not be sold after 8:00 PM, all bars and restaurants are closed, amateur sports games are being stopped altogether, there are very tight restrictions in higher education," he said. "Now, we need to have confidence in our people."

Maïthé Chini

The Brussels Times

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