Belgium could begin relaxing rules around Easter, expert says
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Belgium could begin relaxing rules around Easter, expert says

Credit: Belga

While he does not want to put forward a specific date, biostatistician Geert Molenberghs said that Belgium could begin to gradually relax some measures during the Easter holidays in April.

“We still have to hang on a little longer, but I think the situation will look more favourable around the Easter holidays,” Molenberghs said on Flemish radio on Tuesday morning, referring to the two-week period from Saturday 3 April to Sunday 18 April.

Putting an exact date on when these relaxations could happen is not possible, according to Molenberghs, who said that he looks at “the evolution of the curves, rather than the calendar.”

As Belgium’s coronavirus figures have been evolving favourably for some time now, a number of federal and regional politicians are calling for relaxations in the near future, such as the reopening the restaurants by the start of spring.

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Bart De Wever, leader of the Flemish rightwing N-VA party, also expressed the hope that the restaurants would reopen “by Easter at the latest.”

Several experts, including infectious disease expert Erika Vlieghe and interfederal Covid-19 spokesperson Steven Van Gucht, are cautiously hopeful about the figures, but believe it is too early to speak of real relaxations.

Van Gucht in particular stated that Belgium has to reach the set threshold of 75 hospitalisations per day – which could be possible by mid-March, according to him – before any more relaxations are announced.

Molenberghs said that he agrees with Van Gucht, and that he believes it would be good to hold on to the “anchor point” of 75 hospital admissions, but also believes that some relaxations around the Easter holidays should be considered.

“We can certainly think about that. The seasonal effect is going to play to our advantage,” Molenberghs said. “The vaccination campaign is also going to make the situation systematically easier to control. Against that backdrop, we can think about gradual, step-by-step easing.”

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times