“Absence of proof doesn’t mean no proof exists”

Belgium’s decision to follow its neighbours and close bars, restaurants and cafés is focusing minds.  Is hospitality really the cause of so many infections?  The governments clearly think it is, but many people have been eager to play down the threat of hospitality, while Flemish social media is full of people suggesting the governments are victimising hospitality.

Erika Vlieghe is an expert in infectious diseases and a member of the government’s advisory panel on corona measures: “We clearly have evidence of infections and clusters in restaurants in China during the first wave.  There has also been extensive cluster research in Japan that showed hospitality was the third source of their infections”.

“Cluster research in Belgium isn’t advanced enough” she added saying “Absence of proof doesn’t mean no proof exists. In theory there are countless arguments why we should focus on hospitality. I feel it’s disappointing doubts are being raised about whether hospitality is a source or not. This is the place where you do risky things. You can’t eat and drink with a face covering. Typically these are places where people come close to one another and speak with a loud voice in spaces that are not always suitably ventilated”.

Epidemiologist Pierre Van Damme adds: “We must be honest.  We don’t possess hard figures with regard to hospitality.  Source tracing abroad does not reveal gigantic percentages.  Cluster research does show that hospitality may be a source”.

“The aim of the measures is to ensure that by the end of the year our circumstances have improved.”

It is understood that the Flemish government was eager to keep hospitality open, but that the federal government insisted on a strong signal.

Top stories