New measures will not be eased for the holidays, health minister warns

New measures will not be eased for the holidays, health minister warns
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The latest series of social-distancing measures, decided by the Consultative Committee on Friday and published on Sunday in the Official Gazette, will not be eased before the end-of-year holidays, according to Public Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke.

Speaking on the RTL-TVi’s Sunday programme, “C’est pas tous les jours dimanche,” Vandenbroucke explained that, at Friday’s meeting, the Committee had set benchmarks for future decisions to ease the restrictions, but these benchmarks were far from being met.

The measures, which will be in force from 1 December to 15 January 2021, include the reopening of non-essential businesses, museums and swimming pools.

Social-distancing rules would continue to apply for the end-of-year holiday season. Only isolated persons will be allowed to broaden their social bubble and receive two close contacts at the same time in their homes, either on the 24th of December or on the 25th.

For gatherings outdoors, the four-person rule – under which each resident is allowed to see four persons as long as they respect social-distancing measures – continues to apply, while the sale and firing of fireworks are banned.

Minister Vandenbroucke stressed on Sunday that any move to relax the measures would be performance-based.

“Let’s be clear on the figures. We agreed on Friday on a management strategy, on “indicators’,” the Flemish socialist said. “To begin the debate on easing restrictions, one of these indicators is that daily infections over two weeks must be lower than an average of 800,” and this must be maintained for three weeks.

“That indicator is now at 3,300. It’s totally impossible to be at 800 in a week’s time; that’s why we said at the Consultative Committee that we would see each other again in early January.

Another condition set by the Commission was that the number of hospital admissions per day must be less than 75.

“Avoiding a third wave [of infections] would be the best Christmas gift,” the minister said.

The Brussels Times


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