Security council to announce further relaxation today

Belgium’s security council that groups representatives of the federal and devolved governments is meeting with the experts preparing the exit strategy to look at further relaxations of corona measures.  The council must give the go ahead for the opening of non-essential shops next Monday.

Moreover, Belgian leaders will be looking at whether markets can reopen and whether sports competitions can resume. VRT News understands that all conditions seem to have been met for shops to reopen on 11 May.  Shops will have to meet new conditions mirroring those for garden centres: 10 square metres will be required for every customer. Shops will get a practical guide with instructions compiled by the federal government in consultation with unions and employers to make it safe for staff.

Proposals to allow people with even state register numbers to shop on one day and people with uneven numbers the next are unlikely to be adopted.

It’s uncertain whether all markets will be allowed to resume.  Some markets are open due to a lack of other stores in the vicinity.  This had led to accusations of unfair competition from stall holders not allowed to work.

Sports competitions could resume gradually: soccer clubs could restart training sessions in June with matches behind closed doors starting from August.  The new ProLeague competition could start as planned.  The ongoing competition would be ended prematurely as the FA suggests. Spectators could be allowed in by October.

The security council is also expected to provide greater clarity on cycling competitions.

Speaking on VRT News this morning deputy premier Geens indicated that the council would in all likelihood offer a perspective on some resumption of our social life.  To what degree our social life will resume and when should become a little clearer today.

There was great criticism of communication by the government after the last council meeting when PM Wilmès gave a PowerPoint presentation late in the evening.  This is why today’s meeting is starting a lot earlier in the day. All eyes will be on how the decisions are communicated today at a news conference after the meeting at a time still to be specified.