Coronavirus: Hold off on open-air barbecues for now, Van Ranst says
Saturday, 06 March 2021
People will need to shelve any plans for barbecues in the garden for the time being, according to virologist Marc Van Ranst.
“Sitting down elbow to elbow for a meal is not yet possible,” Van Ranst said on Friday on the VTM television channel. “Once again, for open-air activities, people will need to keep their distance and wear face masks.”
His warnings came as Belgium’s Consultative Commission authorised outdoor gatherings of up to 10 persons under certain conditions.
The virologist said the experts had also suggested “allowing these activities in the open air.” He stressed that “as long as that’s done outdoors and precautions are respected, the risk is not too great.”
However, virologist Stephen recalled that infections are also possible outdoors. Speaking on the Terzake platform, he admitted that he was even a little worried by the easing of restrictions.
Marc Van Ranst also commented on the prospect of reopening in the hospitality sector, scheduled for the 1st of May if the health situation allows it. “We hope by then that the situation will be better,” he said.
“It’s still far away and a lot of things can still happen. Should things take a turn for the worse, we can always come back on our decision,” he added. “But knowing that vaccination will be pursued, all will be well.”
Non-essential travel remains prohibited until 18 April, with an assessment on 26 March at the next Consultative Meeting. It’s a good thing to prevent the spread of the virus and its variants, Van Ranst said.
According to Gucht, the next three weeks will be “very crucial.”
For her part, Antwerp infectious disease specialist Erika Vlieghe noted that it would be “very important for the epidemiological situation and the situation in hospitals to be closely monitored for the next three weeks.”
“If we want the plan to be respected, we all need to do our best,” added Ms. Vlieghe, who chairs the GEMS, a group of experts that advises the government.