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Politicians question if Belgium still needs curfew

Credit: Belga

Several Belgian politicians have raised concerns about whether the country’s curfew is still a necessary and justifiable measure, following the recent pressure on the restriction in the Netherlands.

While a recent court decision in the Netherlands declaring the curfew a “far-reaching infringement of the right to freedom of movement” will not change anything for Belgium, Egbert Lachaert, the leader of the Flemish liberal Open VLD party, became the latest politician questioning the rule on Thursday evening.

“Any freedom-restricting measure must be efficient, necessary, proportionate and temporary,” he tweeted. “Politicians and experts must ask the question whether this is still the case for the curfew today.”

According to Lachaert, the curfew was initially an effective measure, but it cannot be maintained for months on end. While he is not pleading for immediate abolition, he does think “a debate is needed” over the next weeks.

Alexia Bertrand, group leader of Open VLD’s Francophone counterpart in the Brussels parliament, MR, is also asking for a parliamentary debate about the curfew.

“Simply extending the measure again is not an option any more,” she said, adding that she can no longer explain to people why such measures are taken in closed circles, without a debate.

“We want objectivity,” Bertrand said. “It may be that the measure is proportionate and necessary, but then we want to see scientific studies that prove that.”

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While several voices in the Brussels parliament only want to align the curfew in the Capital-Region to that of Flanders, group leader of the Brussels Défi party Emmanuel De Bock stated the measure should be lifted entirely.

“It is an extreme measure that is only possible in times of war,” he told Bruzz, adding that aligning the Brussels’ and Flemish rules would already be a step in the right direction.

Since it was implemented, the measure has been the subject of political and legal debate several times, but the curfew is part of the measures published in the Ministerial Decrees, which have a sufficient legal basis, according to the Council of State.

“The law of 15 May 2007 on civil security does allow us to take all necessary measures in the current exceptional circumstances,” said Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden last week.

The curfew has been in force for some time in Belgium, from 10:00 PM to 6:00 AM in Wallonia and the Brussels-Capital Region, and between midnight and 5:00 AM in Flanders.

Following the latest Consultative Committee, the curfew, along with Belgium’s other coronavirus fighting measures, was extended again, until at least 1 April.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times

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