'No Dutch yo-yo policy': Belgium cautious ahead of Friday's Consultative Committee

'No Dutch yo-yo policy': Belgium cautious ahead of Friday's Consultative Committee
Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke (left) with Prrime Minister Alexander De Croo. Credit: Belga

Ahead of the Consultative Committee on Friday about Belgium's coronavirus restrictions, Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke stated that he wants to avoid a "yo-yo policy," such as in the Netherlands.

In the runup to the meeting, Vandenbroucke said that he does not want to make "empty promises" about possible closing hours of bars or the reopening of nightclubs after summer.

"I have absolutely no desire to end up in a Dutch yo-yo policy," he told VTM News on Sunday, referring to the Netherlands' decision last week to roll back a number of relaxations due to a sharp rise in infections.

On Friday 16 July, the Committee will meet again to discuss the situation, as well as the next step of the relaxations in Belgium's "summer plan," that was planned to take effect on 1 August.

Flemish Minister-President Jan Jambon said on local radio on Sunday morning that he was mainly looking at vaccinations, saying that normal life could "more or less resume" by the end of August, when 90% of adults will have been vaccinated.

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However, Vandenbroucke stressed that caution is needed as only about 40% of the entire population has been fully vaccinated for now, adding that it is not yet the time to "release all brakes."

Additionally, discussions about later closing times for the hospitality industry and the possible resumption of nightlife in September all come a bit early, according to him.

The priority right now is that all bars and restaurants ensure adequate ventilation and install the mandatory CO2 meters, Vandenbroucke stressed.

For the time being, organising mass events, such as Pukkelpop, should not be a problem, as the festival can take place provided that the organisation meets the agreements for testing and inspections, according to him.

If everything goes according to plan, attendees will have to show a Covid Safe Ticket to get access to the festival, to show that they have been fully vaccinated for at least two weeks or recently tested negative.

Initially, it was said that this ticket would only be needed for events with more than 5,000 people indoors and 10,000 outdoors, but the sector is now asking if it could also serve as an entry control for smaller events, such as weddings, company parties, smaller football games and parties in youth centres, for example.

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