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No relaxations in Brussels for now, says Vervoort

Brussels minister-president Rudi Vervoort. © Belga

The time is not right for the Brussels region to take part in any relaxation of the measures against Covid-19, according to minister-president Rudi Vervoort.

Vervoort (PS) will make his position clear at this afternoon’s meeting of the Consultative Committee, where the Flemish and Walloon regions are expected to push ahead with lifting many of the main restrictions remaining as part of the so-called ‘summer plan’.

However, while the government wants decisions to be taken for the entire country, Brussels lags behind its neighbours in certain key indicators of the state of the epidemic.

For example, while the figures for those fully vaccinated in Flanders, Wallonia and Ostbelgien (the German-speaking cantons in Wallonia which collect their own figures) are all above the threshold of 70% of the adult population (88%, 77% and 72% respectively), Brussels can only manage 60%.

The capital region also has a substantially higher rate of hospital admissions, an area which is seeing sustained growth in all areas. But while Antwerp province is seeing three new admissions per 100,000 population per week, and Liege province four, the rate in Brussels is up to nine admissions a week – the highest it has been since May.

Removing restrictions in the Brussels region, the minister-president told Bel-RTL radio this morning, “is not on the agenda given the health situation. I will be arguing in favour of keeping the measures in force under the current ministerial decree. Brussels should press the pause button for a month, and then we can re-evaluate.”

Pressing the pause button is unlikely, however, to find much favour from the other two regions. They are going into the meeting expecting to drop the mandatory closing times for bars and restaurants, as well as the re-opening of nightclubs – the one sector that has so far been ignored completely.

If the committee goes along with Vervoort, the nightlife sector in the capital itself will not quickly forget. If not, the effect is likely to be seen in the figures from Sciensano health institute published every day.