Belgium to review coronavirus lockdown on Wednesday

Belgium’s National Security Council (NSC) will meet on Wednesday to review the coronavirus lockdown, which experts and officials have hinted is likely to be extended beyond the current 19 April deadline.

Federal government officials will convene with the leaders of Belgium’s regions and language communities at 2:30 PM and discuss a possible lengthening of the lockdown, in place since mid-March.

In announcing the latest extension to mid-April, the NSC had said that pushing back the lockdown a further two weeks to 3 May was a possibility.

The meeting comes amid reports suggesting that residents in Belgium are starting to be less observant of the lockdown measures, with transport companies reporting a rise in suspected non-essential travels, and police reporting a rise in lockdown violations.

A central talking point of the meeting on Wednesay is expected to be summer events, with the industry expecting clarity over whether major summer festivals will be allowed to go forward after the federal interior minister said at least two festivals be “probably” cancelled.

Several health officials and experts, including from the World Health Organisation, have cautioned against loosening the lockdown measures too early, warning that it could cause a second wave of infections.

France and Italy have both announced extensions to their current lockdowns, which are currently set to remain in place until 11 and 3 May, respectively.

The meeting comes as a number of governments in Europe start loosening their own lockdown regulations, progressively restarting public life by allowing a number of non-essential services to open back up.

On Monday, non-essential workers in the construction and industry sector returned to work in Spain, which has the second-highest number of infections throughout the world, behind the United States.

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This week, a gradual easing out of the lockdown began in Austria, with a number of non-essential shops and public transport reopened under the condition that everyone wears a face mask, while in Denmark, primary schools, nurseries and kindergartens are set to open back up on Wednesday.

Gabriela Galindo
The Brussels Times

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