‘Time-out week’: why Belgium is not relaxing measures yet
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‘Time-out week’: why Belgium is not relaxing measures yet

Credit: Belga

Against all expectations, Belgium’s Prime Minister Alexander De Croo did not announce any relaxation at the press conference following the Consultative Committee on Friday.

The authorities did not announce the expected expansion of the (outdoor) social bubbles or any other changes to the rules today, and instead announced a “time-out week” before making any decisions.

The figures, and in particular the hospital admissions, have started going up again this week, which is the main cause of concern, according to De Croo.

“In the last few days, the figures of hospital admissions went up, but they could have been assumed to be outliers, meaning not a part of the general trend,” he said.

“However, looking at the figures that came in from yesterday (with 200 new hospitalisations), that would have been a lot of outliers in a row,” De Croo said, adding that the government is “taking a little more time to give us more certainty.”

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Additionally, non-medical contact professions, such as beauticians, tattoo artists and massage salons, will reopen across the country after weekend, which could also have an impact on the figures.

“I think each of us is very aware of the fact that we are yearning for more opportunities, and for that freedom that we have talked about so much,” he said, adding that this is “a difficult moment.”

However, relaxing measures now, in an ill-considered or reckless manner would only lead to a very short-lived freedom, De Croo stressed.

“Is it worth it to do this thoughtlessly? To have that freedom and then have to give it up two weeks later? That is what this is really about,” he said.

According to De Croo, there can only be one conclusion. “You can only make decisions when you stand firmly on the ground and have a solid basis,” he said. “And that basis is not firm enough today.”

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times