Share article:
Share article:

Mixed reactions to yesterday’s Consultative Committee

© Pukkelpop

There have been mixed reactions to yesterday’s announcements by the Consultative Committee of changes to the coronavirus regulations, which consisted generally of a lifting of restrictions.

The committee, made up of representatives of the federal and regional governments, took decisions mainly affecting the hospitality, travel and events sectors from 9 June.

In the hospitality industry, bars and restaurants will now be able to receive customers indoors as well as outdoors, providing safety measures are taken, tables are limited to four people (unless all from one household) and ventilation is adequate.

In a change to the plan announced previously, closing time will now be the same indoors and outdoors, set at 23.30.

That change was greeted as a victory by Flemish minister-president Jan Jambon (N-VA), who had made an issue of the fact that the original plan would have seen customers indoors turned out at 22.00.

The sector itself was delighted.

We are grateful for this important decision,” said Matthias De Caluwe of sector federation Horeca Vlaanderen.

That equal hour was at the top of our wish-list. It now also feels fairer for businesses without a terrace. A catering business may also open at 5 a.m. instead of 8 a.m. That is important for the hotels. They still had to serve breakfast in the rooms.”

The sector is now looking forward to the possibility of further relaxations when the committee meets again on 11 June – potentially an end to a fixed closing time, or a larger limit on table guests?

In travel, the rule of obligatory quarantine on return from another country is lifted, but travellers will still have to show evidence of being fully vaccinated, or show a recent negative PCR test, or proof of immunity through previous infection.

Any or all of those conditions can be demonstrated via the EU’s Digital Covid Certificate, which will be available from 1 July.

For anyone who has not been able to be vaccinated in time – including almost all young people – two PCR test kits are to be made available free from pharmacies.

The travel agency Jongerentravel, which caters for young people, is expecting a flood of bookings now that the quarantine obligation is gone.

Now that quarantine is no longer mandatory, we will also receive more reservations,” said spokesperson Katrien Corens. “It is clear that nightlife is very important for the group of young people from 16 years old. It’s high time for them to really celebrate. Spain is considering reopening nightlife in limited capacity.”

Festivals, meanwhile, can organise events for up to 75,000 attendees from 13 August, just in time for Pukkelpop and Tomorrowland, which come in under that ceiling, as well as Formula One, which will have to slim down slightly from its usual 90,000.

That 75,000 figure is perfect for us,” said Debby Wilmsen, spokesperson for Tomorrowland. “We have no need to adjust our capacity, and we are very satisfied with that.”

Meanwhile, among those less delighted by the announcements was Marc Van Ranst, virologist and the Cassandra of experts.

The governments are taking a risk,” he said. “If too many measures are relaxed at the same time, there is a chance that it will go too fast compared to the number of vaccinations.”

Marc Van Noppen, CEO of UZ Brussel in Jette, still has concerns about the Delta variant, formerly known as the India variant.

This is a period in which we hope that a lot of people will remain rather careful. Otherwise, we will see an increase again from the end of June, which is predicted by the statisticians,” he said.

There are a lot of things that are allowed in the open air and I am happy that it is possible again. The business that continues indoors remains a risk.”

Latest news

Increase in number of people ‘asking King for mercy’ through royal pardons
More and more people living in Belgium have been seeking royal pardons, mainly for fines, largely as a result of it now being possible to send in ...
England now accepting cheaper Covid tests from fully vaccinated travellers
Fully vaccinated travellers who enter England from non-red countries will only be required to book a lateral flow test to take following their ...
Re-introducing face masks indoors considered as Covid-19 situation worsens
Belgium's council of ministers will hold an emergency meeting on Monday to discuss the worsening epidemiological situation, and reintroducing face ...
Federal museums to receive €2.9 million booster shot
Federal museums will receive an additional €2.9 million in support from the government for the fiscal year 2021, of which the first payouts will be ...
European Parliament emphasises healthy food and animal welfare in EU Farm to Fork Strategy
The European Parliament adopted this week a resolution on the EU Farm to Fork Strategy calling for a fair, healthy and environmentally-friendly food ...
Threats of strike action could affect Brussels’ STIB network from Monday
Brussels public transport operator STIB's trams, buses and metros could be affected from Monday 25 October onwards as the union representing the ...
Number of international adoptions in Belgium continues to drop
The number of regulated international adoptions authorised by Belgium further dropped in 2020, continuing an ongoing decreasing trend. Last ...
Disaster drill with emergency services held at Brussels Airport
Around 300 people took part in a disaster drill held was organised on Saturday by Brussels Airport in collaboration with external emergency services ...
Austria presents bill to legalise euthanasia
Austria’s government on Saturday presented its proposals for legalising assisted suicide, in response to a Constitutional Court ruling that the ...
Brussels’ Museum Night Fever draws in some 12,000 visitors
Some 12,000 participants took part in the 14th edition of Museum Night Fever in Brussels, with the 29 participating museums filled to the maximum ...
Relaunch of 10,000 steps campaign to get Flemish people moving
The Flemish government is breathing new life into its 10,000 steps campaign to get people in the region moving after a recent survey found that a ...
‘No scientific basis’ for giving everyone third dose, vaccine expert says
The head of Belgium's Vaccination Taskforce has argued that there is not enough scientific evidence to support the Flemish government's decision to ...