Tuesday, 27 October 2020
Belgium’s Flemish region is expected to announce new coronavirus measures later today, in a significant change of stance from Minister-President Jan Jambon wait-and-see attitude of the weekend.
The Flemish government will organise an additional ministerial council on Tuesday at 6:00 PM to decide on possible additional coronavirus measures, Jambon announced on Monday. He had faced criticism after announcing that the Flemish government would not take measures in addition to those decided at a national level last week.
“The figures continue to evolve unfavourably, and over the past few hours the virologists have formulated additional advice,” he commented, adding that governors had also noted additional problems at a local level.
While the exact scope of the measures is unknown at this time, certain topics are all but expected to come up for discussion based on comments from involved parties, with many expecting Flanders to partially follow trends already seen in Brussels and Wallonia.
Curfew: Both Brussels and Wallonia have extended the length of time that their curfew is in effect. From 10:00 PM to 6:00 AM (rather than the midnight to 5:00 AM currently in effect), people are not allowed on the street without good reason.
This issue is expected to cause debate among provinces, with those in the Brussels periphery calling for strict rules, but Antwerp governor Cathy Berx questioning the legal ramifications. “As a lawyer I also like to look at proportionality, necessity and effectiveness. In Antwerp that was very effective, but we did it in a proportional way and no longer than strictly necessary.”
Limiting social contacts: Berx also commented on the current approach to social contact, and how it could be changed, suggesting a maximum of 4 people. This was supported by East Flemish governor Carina Van Cauter, according to VRT.
Sports: Looking at measures in Brussels and Wallonia, it’s also expected that the sports sector will be hit with new rules. In Brussels, all sporting facilities have closed, including gyms, tennis courts and swimming pools, while only children under 12 may take part in training.
Education: No clear reasoning is appearing on education, following the announcement that the autumn vacation would be extended. As it stands, Belgium is still pushing to continue school uninterrupted until the Christmas break.
These potential changes – and whatever else comes out of the meeting – will hopefully address the concerns shared by experts in the days since Jambon’s initial announcement. “The difference between Flanders and Wallonia is 10 days,” Virologist Steven Van Gucht said on Monday morning. “We are a bit behind, but it is not more than that.”
The Brussels Times