Friday, 22 January 2021
The latest meeting of Belgium’s Consultative Committee will start at 2:00 PM today, aiming to discuss prospects for several sectors and the population for the upcoming carnival holidays.
While relaxations do not seem to be on the agenda of the meeting this afternoon, a more concrete timeframe for reopening several sectors, such as hairdressers, is expected.
In November, Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke said that relaxing rules would not happen before the coronavirus figures remained below 800 infections and 75 hospitalisations per day for three weeks, but he stated that “prospects” were needed on Thursday evening.
What will be decided regarding the reopening of the hospitality industry is not yet clear, but several sources told Belgian media that the proposed date of 1 March seems a little premature.
Additionally, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo’s call for a ban on non-essential travel received no opposition during Thursday’s EU summit, making it very likely that such a restriction will be announced.
In recent days, Vandenbroucke, Flemish Minister-President Jan Jambon and Flemish Welfare Minister Wouter Beke have also spoken out in favour of banning tourist travel.
However, the precise definition of non-essential travel is not straight-forward, and the question of how controls should be organised will also have to be thoroughly discussed.
In light of the more infectious coronavirus variants, a possible extension of the mandatory quarantine period is also expected.
The Committee will likely also give the final green light to harmonise the agreed measures in education across the Regions, as the Flemish community decided that all secondary school lessons would be given during an extra week of distance during before the carnival holidays.
The meeting is the first to taker place in person after the previous 2 sessions were held online. This also means an official press conference will be held in order to better explain the changes, while the previous sessions have ended with a press release.
The Brussels Times