“We will evolve to a sort of new normal”

Everybody wants to know when measures designed to stem the spread of coronavirus will be relaxed.  Belgian interior minister Pieter De Crem (Flemish Christian democrat) has spoken of the importance of Friday’s meeting of the national security council grouping representatives of the federal and devolved governments.

Speaking on VRT TV Mr De Crem refused to be drawn on what will happen after 3 May, the day the present corona restrictions lapse.

“It’s important the general social distancing measures are followed.  This is a virus that knows no bounds.  Next Friday’s security council will be important.  The committee of experts will make all kinds of suggestions. We will then move on to a new normal, though social distancing will remain important even then”.

Mr De Crem denied there was any  lack of clarity with regard to which stores were allowed to reopen at the weekend amid reports some shops reopened and then had to close again.

“The ministerial decree is clear: shops with a general assortment of DIY gear may reopen, stores with a specific assortment, e.g. tiles or bathroom equipment may not. This has always been clear. People should be willing to accept this clarity. There has been no lack of clarity in the decision-making process and in communication about it.”

Mr De Crem also praised DIY stores and garden centres that opened at the weekend.

“They had a good approach.  The chaos predicted didn’t materialise.”