‘Belgium is relaxing measures too quickly,’ Vlieghe warns
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‘Belgium is relaxing measures too quickly,’ Vlieghe warns

Credit: Belga

Belgium is relaxing its measures imposed to stop the spread of the coronavirus too quickly, according to infectious diseases expert and chair of the GEMS advisory council, Erika Vlieghe.

Her warnings come after Friday’s Consultative Committee, during which the government announced some early relaxations, including extending the number of people that can visit someone’s home and can sit at one table at bars, restaurants and cafes to eight, which Vlieghe criticised.

“I fear that we are deconfining too quickly. There is a gap between what is said by the government and what is actually done by people,” she said on DH Radio. 

She added that it “would be a shame to waste all the efforts made so far by relaxing measures too quickly.

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Despite Prime Minister Alexander De Croo’s optimism about the evolution of the epidemiological situation in Belgium, Vlieghe said that a step-by-step approach to freedom is needed to allow time for vaccination to bring the epidemic under control until autumn and winter.

“We need to manage this virus in a sustainable way and not just during the summer,” she said, adding that a full lifting of measures should be postponed until the end of next summer.

She added that to sustain the situation, “certain measures may have to be reconsidered during the winter, such as wearing masks and indoor rules.”

Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke also said on Sunday that face masks would need to remain compulsory for some time in certain places, such as stores and on public transport since everything depends on the percentage of the population that is vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Both Vlieghe and Vandenbroucke stressed the importance of ventilation indoors, and Vandenbroucke added that making sure there is also a ventilation plan in the education sector was a “must”.

Vlieghe emphasised that the vaccination campaign, which is going at full steam in Belgium, will make a big difference to the situation in the future, adding that “thanks to it, the situation has changed compared to last year.”

The Brussels Times