Individual ‘Covid-safe’ labels should replace re-opening by sector, experts argue

Individual ‘Covid-safe’ labels should replace re-opening by sector, experts argue
Credit: Belga

Belgium's coronavirus relaxation strategy should be replaced with a ‘Covid-safe’ label for places based on the measures they implement, according to three experts in epidemiology and infectious diseases.

This label should be given based on the steps taken to guarantee the safety of people, and replace the sector by sector plans currently in place, according to epidemiologist Marius Gilbert and infectious diseases specialists Nathan Clumeck and Leila Belkhir said in an opinion piece in Le Soir on Monday.

These steps would include:

  • The quality of ventilation,
  • The possibility of wearing a mask,
  • The duration of exposure.

"The limitation of the current system is that within each sector, there is a different risk situation. In a hairdresser salon that takes care to ventilate by opening windows and doors, and where everyone wears a mask, the risk is lower than for a one-hour facial, without a mask, in a closed cabin. But today, these two activities are in the same category," Gilbert said.

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Gilbert argued that the current system of re-opening by sector was justified during the first confinement, but that one year on, this logic can no longer be relied on, as there is more scientific knowledge about how the virus is transmitted.

They highlighted that the objective is to reduce the transmission of the virus as much as possible, and to accept the residual risk while allowing economic, cultural and social activity to resume. They added that it is not a question of advocating "living with the virus', but "despite the virus", by "accepting a residual risk as we have always done in other areas, such as road safety or fire."

The experts proposed that local municipalities should be responsible for advising and checking compliance with the label.

Lauren Walker

The Brussels Times

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