Belgium’s Consultative Committee will meet again on Friday to discuss possible changes to the measures, even though the country’s coronavirus figures do not allow for many relaxations.
During an unexpected press conference earlier this week, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo repeatedly made it clear that no great relaxations of the measures should be expected on Friday.
Despite his warnings, however, several topics and proposals are expected to be discussed.
A proposal by several Green MPs to expand social bubbles for outdoor activities from four to eight people, was considered a relatively small risk by several virologists, with Marc Van Ranst calling it a small change that “can mean something to a lot of people.”
If more people would be allowed to gather outside, some politicians also suggested that cafés, bars or restaurants could open their terraces, but the mathematical models presented on Monday showed that easing too many restrictions too soon could be “dramatic.”
Additionally, the ban on non-essential travel will also be on the table, as Belgium received an official letter from the European Commission on Tuesday, saying the country had ten days to justify the extension of the ban until 1 April.
It is likely that the ban will not be extended past 1 April, but replaced with a “strong recommendation” not to travel, with a possible exception for some countries who are in the middle of a third wave.
Earlier this week, Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden also stated that the curfew measure would be discussed on Friday, as in recent days, several politicians, as well as the youth parties, have all argued for the measure to be lifted.
Lastly, the so-called “roadmap” for how to handle the next stages of the pandemic that the authorities asked the GEMS expert group to draw up during the last Committee, is also expected to be ready.
Several experts already stated that the roadmap will not focus on the calendar – like Belgium’s exit plan after the first wave – but on the evolution of the curve, taking into account the number of infections, hospitalisations and deaths, as well as the progress of the vaccination campaign.
The Brussels Times