Will the pubs reopen for Christmas?

Pubs and restaurants are closed to stem the spread of coronavirus and keep the situation in Belgian hospitals manageable.  Parties at home are banned too.  Many people are looking forward to some return to normality, but will we be able to raise a glass to 2021 with friends and family down the local?

Not if Flemish biostatistician Niel Hens is to be believed. He doesn’t think bars or restaurants will reopen this year.

“It’s going to take a while before they reopen.  I’m not very hopeful about that.  We know this is an environment full of risk.  This has got nothing to do with the people in the hospitality industry.  They are doing their level best, but these are simply places where people meet.”

“I’m more positive about a reopening next spring, next year.  Everybody needs something to look forward to, but we must prevent a third wave of coronavirus at all cost.  If it does arrive, we will be the worst pupil of the class. One sector will never be responsible for a whole wave.  It’s always a combination of sectors.”

Monday saw the reopening of schools with pupils attending all lessons in person in kindergarten, primary and the first two years of secondary. Will the reopening impact on the epidemic here?

Niel Hens: “It could lead to kink in the curve.  According to our calculations that is the most extreme scenario.  Normally the curve will continue to fall.  It would be quite something if it stated to rise again.”

The biostatistician is disappointed whole classes are still attending school and believes that from an epidemiological perspective half-full classes are more appropriate.

Niel Hens suggests that some hospital patients may not have been given full care: “I believe we got very close to full capacity in hospitals.  In some hospitals capacity was exceeded.  If all hospitals had had sufficient capacity, the curve may have peaked even higher.”

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