Interior Minister says that extending curfew hours would be a last resort
The Federal Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden (Flemish Christian democrat) has said that extending the hours of the nightly curfew in Flanders and Wallonia will only be done as a last resort. Currently a curfew is in force between the hours of midnight and 5am in Belgium’s two biggest regions. However, in the 19 municipalities that make up the Brussels-Capital Region the curfew starts at 10pm and lasts until 6am.
On Friday afternoon the Consultative Committee that is made up of representatives of Belgium’s federal, regional and language community governments will meet to discuss what further measures might be taken to curb the recent upsurge in coronavirus infections and the increase in the number of people with COVID-19 that are requiring hospital treatment.
The team of experts that advises lawmakers on coronavirus policy has drafted a so-called “Plan B” that includes extending curfew hours. Speaking in VRT News’ daily current affairs programme ‘Terzake’, the virologist Steven Van Gucht suggested that the curfew could come into force each evening from 10pm or even 8pm in the whole country.
However, the Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden (Flemish Christian democrat) told VRT Radio 1’s morning news and current affairs programme ‘De ochtend’ that although “The figures aren’t good, and we need to look at what measures are suitable. I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but I have always said that we should be cautions with relation to the curfew. Any changes should not be made as a matter of course. As far as I am concerned this should only be looked at as a last resort. We should first look at other measures to bring the situation under control”, Ms Verlinden said.
The Flemish Prime Minister Jan Jambon (nationalist) has also said that “there is absolutely no reason” to extend the hours of the curfew in Flanders. Mr Jambon told VRT News that "I don’t think that this will be on the table. The figures aren’t good, they are on the high side, so we should look at what we are going to do with regard to relaxation of the restrictions that we have announced. Above all we should keep a level head. The figures are no reason to panic”.