Give youth more freedom once over-65s are vaccinated, says minister

Give youth more freedom once over-65s are vaccinated, says minister
Credit: Belga

Young people should get more freedom as soon as the people over 65 years old in Belgium have been vaccinated, according to Flemish Youth Minister Benjamin Dalle.

Seeing thousands of young people ignore the rules to gather and party in Brussels' Bois de la Cambre is "painful" and "disappointing," but politicians have made mistakes too, he told Het Nieuwsblad.

"We are applying the coronavirus rules now to avoid people getting sick and putting too much pressure on hospitals," Dalle said. "If the people most at risk are vaccinated, there is no reason to maintain these strict measures."

However, drawing up the protocols should not be done by politicians, but by the sectors themselves, according to him. "It was shown that [camps] can be organised safely last summer," Dalle said, adding that the existing protocols work.

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Last weekend, Antwerp mayor and president of the Flemish rightwing N-VA party Bart De Wever already criticised some political decisions concerning youth, calling the early school closure "an incredible blunder."

Older children and young people with nothing to will "go out on the streets and party and gather,” he said on VTM News, referring to the crowds in Bois de la Cambre.

“Two halves of society have emerged: the young people are fed up, they want freedom,” De Wever added, “and the other half are older people or people with illnesses. Both sides are facing each other with drawn knives.”

However, over the course of next month, more should become possible for young people, according to Dalle. Additionally, youth camps should "certainly" be able to continue in the summer.

"They will happen following strict protocols, but we are not going to ask all those young people to undergo a PCR test next summer to be able to participate in activities again, are we? That is unrealistic, a very bad idea and also very expensive," he said.

Maïthé Chini

The Brussels Times

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