Belgium will review curfew and non-essential travel ban on Friday
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Belgium will review curfew and non-essential travel ban on Friday

Credit: Belga

On Friday, Belgium’s Consultative Committee will review whether the current curfew and ban on essential travel will be lifted before 1 April, according to Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden.

A number of politicians and sector organisations are pleading for more relaxations ahead of the planned Consultative Committee meeting on Friday 26 February.

Questioned about whether those relaxations could include the lifting of the curfew and travel ban, Verlinden said on Flemish radio that “we will discuss that at the Consultative Committee.”

“I think everyone wants to see some relaxations as soon as possible,” she added. “On the other hand, we have seen that the figures have been fluctuating in recent weeks.”

“From this, we must conclude that we are still in a situation of uncertainty, also regarding whether the virus variants will become dominant,” Verlinden said.

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“I do not see anyone arguing that we will still have measures in place by May or June,” Verlinden said, adding that “if we can think of easing up, it should be for people who are having a particularly hard time, such as young people and students.”

“However, the fact is that we still have to be very careful in the coming weeks to see what the impact of the vaccinations will be,” she said. “Nobody wants to decide measures now that will keep us in lockdown for even longer.”

This weekend, Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke said that people should not expect any significant easing of restrictions following Friday’s meeting.

“Within three weeks, the British variant of the coronavirus will be dominant in Belgium and we will be able to assess how infectious it is,” he told VTM News.

However, Vandenbroucke said that new variants should not be feared, if we continue to follow the rules. “We have built a solid dike,” he said. “The problem arises if there are holes in the dike.”

“In other words, we can only consider relaxing the rules when we have a better picture of the spread of the British variant in Belgium,” he explained.

Friday’s Consultative Committee will be important, however, to harmonise the different governments, to make choices about what is a priority, according to Vandenbroucke.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times