Why Belgium relaxed coronavirus measures as France tightens them
Share article:
Share article:

Why Belgium relaxed coronavirus measures as France tightens them

Credit: Belga

On Wednesday, Belgium and France both introduced new rules to curb the rising coronavirus figures, but while Belgium mostly relaxed previous measures, France announced additional restrictions.

Even though both countries are now coloured red on the coronavirus map of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), meaning over 120 new coronavirus infections per 100,000 inhabitants in the last two weeks, both countries took a vastly different approach.

French Health Minister Olivier Véran announced that people in certain areas will have to limit their social contacts, and that bars and restaurants in over a dozen large cities will have to close at 10:00 PM, and even have to stay shut completely in the coastal city of Marseille.

In contrast, Belgium allowed its inhabitants to have close contact with more people again, relaxed face mask rules, shortened the mandatory quarantine period and lifted the limit on the number of guests allowed at organised events.

In France, the situation seems to be worse, with an incidence rate of almost 200 confirmed infections per 100,000 inhabitants and 6.2% of all tests coming back positive (compared to 140/100,000 and 4.1% in Belgium), according to official figures.

Additionally, while France’s population is more than five times bigger than Belgium’s, its number of hospitalisations is currently 10 times as high.

However, France’s previous measures were not as strict as Belgium’s, leading some to say the country is now just “catching up” to what already happened in Belgium.

In most French departments, private gatherings are not limited to 10 people like they are in Belgium, local events are not banned, and gatherings of up to 1,000 people are still allowed.

Related News:

 

On top of that, some of Belgium’s recently announced measures were not relaxed because the health situation now allowed it, but simply because they were not understood or respected, and had become counterproductive in the end, according to experts.

“The disadvantage in terms of loss of support” for the measures was becoming “greater than the benefit,” epidemiologist Marius Gilbert, former member of Belgian government’s evaluation committee Celeval, told RTBF.

By maintaining the rules that people found absurd, the risk was that “they might no longer follow the other very important and useful recommendations,” he said.

With these measures, Belgium’s government wants to include the population in the fight against the virus, and not just leave it to the politicians and the virologists.

“Everyone has to make their individual choice, and must decide in good conscience,” said Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès during the press conference on Wednesday. “But we ask you to follow the recommendations, as they are very important.”

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times

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 ...