Health Minister says that reopening of bars and restaurants on 1 March is “completely unthinkable”

The Federal Health Minster Frank Vandenbroucke (Flemish socialist) has dashed any hopes that the reopening of hairdressers next Saturday and other non-medical contact professionals’ businesses on 1 March might mark the start of a major relaxation of the measures designed to curb the spread of COVID-19. Speaking in an interview with VRT Radio 1’s morning news and current affairs programme ‘De ochtend’, Mr Vandenbroucke said “It is much too early. We now need to ask people to be patient and not to give them false hope”.

The hope that something more could be on the cards from 1 March was very much alive, particularly among those in the hospitality industry.

"I have every understanding for this. If you are a bar-owner or work in the cultural sector it is terrible. However, 1 March is completely unthinkable. It would show a lack of respect to suggest something to people that won’t be able to happen. I very much doubt that we will be far enough forward in the race with the vaccine to enable us to relax the measures in March. That seems to be the case to me”, the Health Minister said.

Mr Vandenbroucke went onto say that the vaccination campaign is our greatest source of hope for a return to a normal life.

"An important turning point will come once all the vulnerable groups in our country have been vaccinated. I am talking about everyone over 65, people with additional illnesses that make them vulnerable and about those in the caring professions. The goal is already clear, but the time it will take us to reach it isn’t yet. We are dependent on vaccine supplies”.

Mr Vandenbroucke repeated the words of his party leader Conner Rousseau "It’s a question of solidarity. Once the older people are protected, younger people will get their freedom back. Everyone is in the same boat. We’re in this together".



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