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Belgium fixed on its fate this Wednesday

The Belgian concertation committee is meeting on Wednesday to decide on new measures around covid restrictions. If the reopening of schools does not seem to be a problem, the debates are more tense concerning the terraces.

Marie DEDEBAN

Marie DEDEBAN

The Belgian concertation committee is meeting on Wednesday to decide on new measures around covid restrictions. If the reopening of schools does not seem to be a problem, the debates are more tense concerning the terraces.

After being called to order by the court of first instance in Brussels, the Belgian state is working on Wednesday on whether or not to renew its anti-covid system. During this consultation committee (Codeco), the representatives of the federal government, the Communities and the Regions will have to rule on several hot topics, in particular the reopening of terraces or that of “contact professions” such as hairdressing salons.

Closed since March 24, “non-essential” businesses such as barbers and beauty salons are showing their impatience. According to our colleagues from Evening, nearly 3,000 Walloon entrepreneurs signed an open letter addressed to Codeco representatives. They are asking for an opening that is more “transversal than sectoral”, in an approach that is more “positive than coercive”. A request a priori heard by the Brussels Minister-President Rudi Vervoort. Invited this Wednesday on the set of the news channel LN24, the chosen one brought forward the date of April 26 for a recovery, even before the start of Codeco.

The question of reopening is more electric as far as the Horeca sector is concerned. On the one hand, Frank Vandenbroucke, Belgian Minister of Health, says he is “reluctant” to give specific dates to avoid creating “expectations” among the population. On the other hand, the Belgian Horeca pleads for a general reopening, going beyond the model in force in other countries such as Luxembourg. “There is an emergency,” Thierry Neyens told RTL info. The president of the Wallonia Horeca federation nevertheless says he “understands” this potential first phase, and hopes that the interiors will be reopened “within 15 days after that of the terraces”.

Whatever Codeco’s decision, Hervé Jamar, governor of the province of Liège, has already announced that he is giving the “green light” to bars and restaurants in his province that would like to reopen. In consultation with the mayors and the police, he hopes to put an end to the underground parties.

Only the gradual reopening of the schools seems to be the subject of a consensus: all would reopen on the scheduled date, April 19. According to The evening, a “pre-Codeco agreement” would leave measures concerning education “at the discretion of the communities”. Deprived of class since March 29, the week before the Easter weekend, primary school pupils would therefore take the road to school with their masks in Flanders, and without in the Wallonia-Brussels federation.

No official information has yet been communicated, Codeco is still under deliberation. As a reminder, the restrictive measures put in place since the Easter weekend aim to reduce the spread of the virus. According to the latest figures, the balance sheet in Belgium shows 25,503 dead since the start of the pandemic.


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