Not even a week after the entry into force of the new measures, a new consultation committee is already planned this Friday morning from 8 am. “When we look at the intensive care occupation, we see that the situation is worse than in the worst case scenario proposed by the experts,” Prime Minister Alexander De Croo told the House this Thursday afternoon.
In recent days, we have indeed felt that the pressure is mounting, with many voices being raised, on the side of the experts in particular, for a hardening of the measures. While the measures decided on a week ago have not yet had the opportunity to take effect. “The contaminations curve is increasing sharply than expected,” points out the interfederal spokesperson for the fight against the coronavirus, Yves Van Laethem. A new contamination record should also have been reached on Thursday. “So this is the eternal question: can we wait 10 days for the measures to take effect or should we get the nail on the head faster? “[display-posts orderby="rand"]
Obviously, the second option is the one chosen by the authorities. This Friday, we will first of all be entitled to a reminder of the measures as well as a call to respect them scrupulously. But also to a hardening of these measures. This Thursday evening, there seemed to be no more taboos, a large number of measures being effectively discussed within a kern. “It goes all over the place,” confirm several sources.
Horeca. The political will is to avoid further closures. Suddenly, we are moving more towards a revision of the opening hours. In the Netherlands, establishments must close at 8 p.m. A little too early for us, we are told. The authorities would rather expect a closure at midnight. Another point under discussion: the number of people per table. Behind the scenes, we are told that a maximum could be set at 4 people per table.
Already subject to stricter measures than the rest of the sector since the last Codeco, nightclubs should close their doors. According to the Minister of Health Frank Vandenbroucke, who spoke in the House, “the most risky activities must be more limited or even stopped”.
Events. Large gatherings are also one of the riskiest activities. This is why the authorities are considering canceling all mass events that take place indoors and where one is standing. This covers concerts, exhibitions and fairs. And why not, also, private events which are not supervised by professionals, as is the case in East Flanders.
For external events, no (big) change in sight: they would still be authorized, subject of course to the use of CST + mask. Outdoor Christmas markets are therefore not targeted here, but we are thinking about a way to better supervise them.
Education. The question of wearing a mask from 10 years old (or 9 years old) should still be the subject of discussions. Currently, Flanders has decided to impose it in its schools, unlike the Wallonia-Brussels Federation. A call to follow the Flemish example should be launched. “In education, we could also talk about distance, at least among the older ones,” says Yves Van Laethem.
Testing. The Prime Minister said that in addition to new measures, Codeco would study how to ease the pressure on health care. One of the measures on the table concerns testing: the number of tests for risky contacts could drop from two (1st and 7th days) to one on the 5th day. A way to relieve somewhat the testing, overwhelmed by the increase in contamination. Pending the result of the test, the Covid Safe Ticket of the person concerned would nevertheless be blocked.
Vaccination. This is the third aspect on which the Consultative Committee will speak. “The vaccination and the booster must be accelerated”, according to the Prime Minister. On Saturday, health ministers are due to meet to organize the administration of the 3rd dose to the entire population – which would be necessary to keep their CST from April, according to the Minister of Health – but this discussion could be anticipated , less in part. Likewise, Frank Vandenbroucke should still come back with the vaccination of children, which he would like to see start in January. The European Medicines Agency has given the green light. Belgium is therefore only waiting for the agreement of the Higher Health Council and the Bioethics Committee.
Teleworking, shopping, sport … We told you, nothing is excluded. Discussions around the return of shopping alone, the return of widespread teleworking, the absence of spectators in sport were also on the agenda.
In short, the range of possible measures is wide. And those that survive the discussions will apply quickly. Objective: from Saturday.