‘Last resort’: Belgium should not tighten curfew now, says Interior Minister

‘Last resort’: Belgium should not tighten curfew now, says Interior Minister
Credit: Belga

The curfew should not immediately be tightened to stop Belgium’s coronavirus figures from rising further, according to Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden.

One of the measures in the so-called “Plan B” of the managing strategy that the experts advised the government to activate is implementing an “earlier and streamlined curfew” across the country, but Verlinden is not in favour of such a restriction.

“I do not want to anticipate matters, but I have always said that we have to be careful with the curfew,” she said on Flemish radio. “As far as I am concerned, we can only look at such an adjustment as a last resort.”

Verlinden stressed that it is up to the Consultative Committee to see “which measures are appropriate” right now, but added that the curfew could not be tightened “just like that.”

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Since it was implemented in October, Belgium’s curfew has come under fire several times, as politicians questioned whether it was still necessary and proportionate, but the Council of State ruled that the measure remains constitutional.

Currently, the measure is in force between midnight and 5:00 AM in Flanders and Wallonia, and from 10:00 PM to 6:00 AM in the Brussels-Capital Region.

After a timeline of relaxations was announced at the previous Consultative Committee meeting, several politicians – both Flemish and Francophone – started calling to abolish the curfew from 1 May, when the country’s bars and restaurants were set to reopen.

On Wednesday evening, however, virologist and GEMS-member Steven Van Gucht said on Flemish television that the current figures and “metropolitan context in Brussels” did not allow for a relaxation of the Brussels’ curfew. “What’s more, I’d sooner see the other Regions switching to the Brussels curfew than the other way around.”

The Consultative Committee has been meeting digitally to discuss changes to the measures and “analyse the situation in detail based on the latest figures” since 3:00 PM.

The meeting will be followed by a press conference, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo’s cabinet confirmed to The Brussels Times. The timing has not been announced yet.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times

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