“Hardly any leeway for relaxations in March”

In its recommendations to the consultative committee representing Belgian governments the GEMS, the Group of Experts for the Management Strategy of the pandemic, advises that the present epidemiological situation does not allow any relaxations during the next four weeks.  The consultative committee has the final say on corona measures and meets on Friday.

The first cautious relaxations could be allowed at the end of March: meeting outdoors with up to 8 or 10 people instead of present 4; limited relaxations in secondary vocational and special needs education; gatherings of up to 8 or 10 people e.g. in psychiatric wards; allowing student ‘kot’ or digs bubbles (students in digs may act as if they belong to one household).

The GEMS says the ban on non-essential foreign trips, mandatory home working and the curfew must stay in place. Indoor hospitality and large gatherings should remain banned.  The experts stress the situation now is far worse than in September when the last government permitted relaxations.  They say a third wave becomes inevitable if regulations are relaxed too quickly.

The GEMS advises against implementing relaxations already agreed for non-medical contact professionals, but says relaxations affecting youngsters and the vulnerable should be given priority.

The panel is unwilling to put any date on further relaxations in secondary education, face-to-face teaching in advanced education and more cultural activities and activities for youngsters.

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