Belgium ‘won’t hesitate’ to implement extra measures, says Interior Minister
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Belgium ‘won’t hesitate’ to implement extra measures, says Interior Minister

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Following criticism that Belgium’s Consultative Committee’s latest measures were not strict enough, Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden said that the government will implement extra rules if they turn out to be necessary.

Responding to criticism from experts that the measures taken were “not enough” to stop the rise in the coronavirus figures, Verlinden said that the federal government will not sit still in the coming days.

“If we see that, in the totality of the package, additional things have to be decided, we will not hesitate,” she told VRT News on Saturday evening.

Verlinden referred to the task given by the Committee to the different Education Ministers, to draw up a plan with measures to further limit the risk of coronavirus infections in schools by Monday.

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“It is to the credit of the ministers of education that they are trying to do everything they can to keep those schools open,” she said. “I am on the same side as them in that fight.”

The common goal is the full reopening of all schools on 19 April, after the Easter holidays. “We have now clearly asked [the education ministers] to come back to the Consultative Committee with a proposal for measures,” said Verlinden.

Even though she did not mention a possible so-called “cooling-off week” – during which children do not go to school physically – for after the Easter holidays, Verlinden did not rule out anything. “If it is necessary to take certain measures, we will do so.”

Additionally, giving priority vaccination to teachers – as Flemish Education Minister Ben Weyts requested – is not as easy as it sounds, according to Verlinden.

“The problem is more nuanced,” she said, adding that many children are also infected, take the infection home with them, where they then infect parents and/or grandparents. “We can’t counteract that by vaccinating the teachers.”

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times