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‘If necessary’ Belgium will take new measures on Friday

Credit: Belga

Faced with mounting infection rates, Belgium once again could be facing strict measures on the run up to the festive period, according to Minister of Health Frank Vandenbroucke.

The latest figures – published Tuesday – show that the average number of new daily coronavirus infections in Belgium has risen for the third day in a row, and to Vandenbroucke, this acceleration opens up the potential need for further measures.

“We now have to look at the figures day after day and be very vigilant. It’s driving and looking back every day. You have to be ready to intervene every day,” Vandenbroucke told Radio 1 on Tuesday.

Belgium’s Consultative Committee will meet earlier than initially planned, on 18 December, to evaluate the coronavirus figures and assess the epidemiological situation in the country. The initial reason for the meeting being brought forward was to discuss calls to relax measures over the festive period, but Vandenbroucke has hinted today that stricter measures could be on the table if needed.

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“If necessary, we must not only enforce the existing measures more strictly but also do some new things here and there so that people follow the basic rules.”

This, however, was all the minister was willing to say ahead of Friday’s Consultative Committee. “I never speculate about measures we might take,” he explained.

Relax for Christmas

When Prime Minister Alexander De Croo announced the latest measures following the Committee’s previous meeting on 27 November, he also stated that an assessment of the situation would take place in early January, with the measures set to apply until 15 January.

Since then, however, several calls from the French-speaking liberal MR party have risen, with the question to consider possible relaxations or exceptions before the Christmas period, instead of after New Year’s.

Particularly the size of people’s social bubbles for the holidays and the closure of hairdressers should be assessed before Christmas, according to several MR politicians.

Even then, however, De Croo was fixed o n his message that this would not happen.

“I hope that we have learned something from the situation last time,” he said on VTM News. “The last thing we need to do now is to give people false hope.”

Jules Johnston
The Brussels Times