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Belgian authorities refuse to deconfin

Health measures will not be lightened despite the good results achieved in the fight against the virus.

Max HELLEFF

Health measures will not be lightened despite the good results achieved in the fight against the virus.

From our correspondent Max HELLEFF (Brussels) – The Belgians waited for the new Concertation Committee which was held on Friday afternoon with their hair standing on end. Although the government warned that there would be no deconfinement measures due to the number of contaminations still too high, everyone secretly hoped that hairdressers could finally reopen their doors.

But nothing worked. Neither the reports showing hairdressers on the verge of bankruptcy, nor the clandestine development of hairdressing at home, nor the calls of the Reform Movement of Georges-Louis Bouchez to make a gesture. Joining several personalities of his party, the French-speaking liberal tweeted Wednesday: “We are entitled to expect a real scientific study. Not a succession of observations. There is no fear in making difficult decisions, we have been doing it for a year, but it must be done on the strongest foundation. “

What to throw a pavement in the governmental pond where the liberals swim with the six other parties of the Vivaldi coalition of Prime Minister Alexander De Croo. In recent days, the tone had risen in the face of intransigence by the Minister of Health, the Flemish socialist Frank Vandenbroucke.

Anger in sight

On Friday, the Belgian authorities nevertheless provided the minimum service. Only driving schools get the green light to resume their activities. We are therefore far from the strategy voted on that same Friday by the Chamber in Luxembourg. But the decision of the neighboring kingdom is based on a recent analysis of cases of employees positive for covid-19 showing that, in this industry, the contamination rate is, on average, lower than in other economic sectors.

As for hairdressers, other contact professions (beauty salons, tattoo artists, etc.) and real estate agents, they will have to wait for a new examination of the situation at the next Consultation Committee. It will be January 22.

This lack of deconfinement will certainly annoy many people. The Middle Class Union had asked to reopen the contact professions, fitness centers and other betting agencies, adding that “the vaccine is here”. The Neutral Union for Independents (SNI), for its part, argued in favor of allowing businesses to admit more customers – via the widening of the “bubble” to two people – to save the sales. Cafes and restaurants must also remain closed. The discontent is such that some bosses are considering reopening clandestinely, if we are to believe the messages posted on social media.

Also note: the maintenance of mandatory teleworking and a further strengthening of the obligation to test and quarantine after a trip deemed non-essential. Finally, “we will have to be more attentive to the respect of sanitary and quarantine measures among children of school age, in particular children attending school from our neighboring countries who are experiencing a less favorable epidemiological situation”.

The authorities are once again calling for patience. They estimate that the target of 70% of the population vaccinated against covid, enabling herd immunity to be achieved, should be reached in September. Not before. For now, both hospitalizations and deaths continue to decline. It’s encouraging. But the contaminations are only declining very slowly. They stand at 1,664 per day between December 29 and January 4.

Thursday in the House, Alexander De Croo had defended his strategy against criticism. “The vaccination task force has opted for a conscientious approach and I think it is defensible”, he justified by adding that “precaution is not opposed to speed”. On Friday, however, the Concertation Committee asked the task force in charge of vaccination to step up the pace and be effective.


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