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Belgians banned from deconfinement

Alone against all, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo does not intend to return the country to a normal life before April.

Alone against all, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo does not intend to return the country to a normal life before April.

From our correspondent Max Helleff (Brussels) – The Belgian Prime Minister, Alexander De Croo, fights against thick and thin to go up the prevailing wind of deconfinement. Because there are not many people around him to support the health measures in force in the fight against the virus. Its own allies have in turn demanded in recent days the end of the curfew, the opening of the cultural sector, the resumption of the hotel and catering industry or the lifting of the ban on non-essential trips abroad.

Alexander De Croo organized a surprise press conference to appease passions, even if it means showering the hopes of those who demand deconfinement in the coming days. “This does not mean that nothing is possible during this month of March,” he said. With vaccination, the deconfinement that goes further is not tomorrow, but we can see it on the horizon, in April, in May. It depends on the development we will see in the coming weeks. ” Several mathematical models were presented to the press to accredit the Prime Minister’s comments.

Since then, criticism within the government majority has increased. At the forefront for several weeks on this issue, the president of the Reform Movement Georges-Louis Bouchez argues that “the political decision is not limited to statistical curves”. The French-speaking liberal contrasts with the graphs the increase in suicides in Brussels, the “long-term consequences for our young people” or even bankruptcies which should reach a peak this year.

“If we consider that we must wait until May to decide on the relaxation of the measures, there is no point in setting up consultation committees,” he said, referring to the meeting which will put Friday around the table the country’s political authorities.

The population gets lost in it. In recent weeks, all epidemiological indicators have been on the decline. On Tuesday, however, the reproduction rate went back above 1. The number of new infections started to rise again, with more than 2,000 new cases detected on average per day between February 13 and 19, ie the Carnival holiday. .

The new hiccups

The waltz-hesitation of the figures serves those who question the health policy of the De Croo government. They see it as an orchestrated manipulation with the help of scientists. Backwards, The evening describes the Prime Minister’s surprise communication as “an exercise in transparency, interested, to be sure, but intellectually honest”. He adds that “if we make the mistake of deconfining too quickly, the price to pay will be much higher than a maximum of twenty days of patience”.

This is without taking into account the vaccination campaign which is experiencing new hiccups: several centers are not functioning or have very reduced capacity due to various problems.

Prime Minister Alexander De Croo will have a lot to do on Friday to convince his partners to give up easing health measures. A status quo is foreseeable at the end of this umpteenth consultation committee, even if one can imagine that a gesture will be made.

For the rest, De Croo put all his weight in the balance. Getting around it would certainly lead to a crisis.

The European Commission has written to the Belgian authorities to obtain a response within ten days on the issue of the ban on non-essential travel extended until April 1. She considers the measure disproportionate. Five other member states are targeted. The ball is in the government’s court.


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