Vandenbroucke: Ban on foreign travel should be lifted on 18 April
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Vandenbroucke: Ban on foreign travel should be lifted on 18 April

The ban on cross-border travel should be lifted in Belgium on 18 April as expected, according to federal health minister Frank Vandenbroucke (Vooruit), speaking today on VTM News.

Asked whether it might be possible for all residents of Flanders to be vaccinated at least once by 11 July, Vandenbroucke declined to speculate. At present the number stands at 1.1 million, or just over 20% of the adult population.

I am always careful with dates because we are so dependent on suppliers,” he replied.

Meanwhile the minister had no comment on the demand made today for the hospitality industry to be given an assurance that they can reopen on May 1.

We really shouldn’t play poker with the capacity and support capabilities of our hospitals,” he said. At present hospitals have cancelled or postponed non-essential treatments to devote capacity to Covid patients, particularly in ICU.

At the moment, as hospitals have postponed other operations, there are 114 beds available. That’s today’s count. That is still far too risky. If our hospitals have ended up in a safer situation and they can again offer good healthcare to everyone who needs it, then you can relax safely. That is what the discussion must be about.”

The independent union for the self-employed (SNI) today called for all other locked-down sectors to be allowed to open if the schools were allowed.

The travel ban, however, is unlikely to be extended when the Consultative Committee next meets on Wednesday. However there will be restrictions, including tighter controls on returning travellers and sanctions for anyone returning from a red zone and refusing to be tested.

In the meantime, the vaccination campaign is going well, particularly in Flanders.

On Thursday, 100,000 vaccines were administered on one day and more than 100,000 on Friday. Next week we expect 358,000 for Flanders and half a million for Belgium as a whole. That will really be a stress test for the organisation, but I am very optimistic about it. If deliveries go as planned – five million doses to be delivered between April, May and June – then we will be well ahead by the end of June,” he said.

Alan Hope
The Brussels Times