Belgium's Consultative Committee: What's up for discussion?

Belgium's Consultative Committee: What's up for discussion?
Prime Minister Alexander De Croo during a press conference following the Consultative Committee. Credit: Belga

Belgium's Consultative Committee meeting will take place today at 2:00 PM to discuss the planned relaxations for 1 September and the current epidemiological situation.

Talks are expected to include the next step of Belgium’s “summer plan,” which will come into effect in just under two weeks, and should include the lifting of all restrictions for worship ceremonies, weddings, and funerals, as well as for youth activities and camps.

As stated when the summer plan was announced, measures will be relaxed provided that seven out of 10 adults have had their first vaccine, which is the case.

“The idea is to lift the restrictions as much as possible from then on,” De Croo said when he first announced the summer plan.

However, Brussels continues to pose a problem when it comes to relaxing measures as its vaccination coverage rate is far behind that of other regions and it accounts for a quarter of the infections and hospitalisations, while only one-tenth of all people in Belgium live in the region.

Some ministers have argued for a faster relaxation of measures in Flanders and Wallonia, but it has been made clear that an end to the federal phase of the coronavirus restrictions will not be announced on Friday.

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Federal public health minister Frank Vandenbroucke previously said that "certain measures which no longer seem appropriate", such as the restriction on limiting social contacts to eight people or the  limit on the number of people at one table and closing times for the catering industry, should be scrapped.

The extension of the Covid Safe Ticket – currently used as proof of vaccination, recovery from the virus, or a recent negative PCR test result for large-scale outdoor events – is also rumoured to be on the table, according to local media reports.

This could see it being used, for example, at weddings, staff parties, and other private events with fewer than 1,500 people present. However, it is unclear what the minimum limit would be for such passes to be used.

Following reports that travellers returning from red zones to Brussels are making up one in three positive cases in the region, its Health Inspectorate has also called on the government to discuss stricter rules for people returning from high-risk areas.

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