Belgium will not go into lockdown today, says Steven Van Gucht

Belgium will not announce another lockdown to stop the spread of the coronavirus in the country following the Consultative Committee meeting today, according to virologist Steven Van Gucht.

“A new lockdown will not be announced,” Van Gucht told The Brussels Times. “But the measures will definitely be tightened for several sectors.”

These stricter rules will be put in place “precisely to avoid another lockdown like the one in March,” he said. “That would be the ultimate emergency solution, if you can call that a solution, but that is the scenario we want to avoid.”

The essence of a lockdown, explained Van Gucht, is that people stay at home. “In that case, you can only leave your house if you have an essential profession, if you need groceries, or if you need medical care,” he said.

Earlier this week, the Netherlands also introduced what it called “a partial lockdown,” but Van Gucht does not agree with that phrasing.

“During a lockdown, there is a stay-at-home order. The Dutch measures certainly do not go that far,” he said. “The shops, for example, are still open. Leaving the house to go shopping for clothes, however, is definitely not an essential journey.”

“In the end, [a lockdown] is a failure of the recommendation of restricting people’s contacts,” Van Gucht said. “If that system fails, a lockdown is the only thing left.”

However, despite the experts’ recommendations, the decisions and measures that will be taken are political. “We say that social contacts have to be reduced, it is up to the politicians to see how that can be done.”

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On Friday, Belgium’s Consultative Committee, which has replaced the previous government’s National Security Council, will meet to discuss stricter measures against the spread of the coronavirus in the country.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times

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