People from the hospitality sector in a symbolic protest in Oudenaarde.

Can we still expect major relaxations of corona restrictions as planned? "There are two scenarios"

The present corona statistics are only improving slowly. Is this enough to reopen restaurants and cafés on 1 May? 

At present, non-essential shops are closed, though it is possible to make a reservation if you really need something. Hairdressers and beauty specialists had to close again, after having been allowed to open their doors again. These new restrictions were announced two weeks ago and should be lifted again in two weeks' time. But more relaxations had been promised, such as the reopening of pubs and restaurants.  

Virologist Steven Van Gucht of the health institute Sciensano told the VRT that the future is uncertain. "At the moment, we see optimistic and pessimistic scenarios. In the worst case, the number of hospitalisations will stabilise at a relatively high level, a bit like after the second wave, but this time at a higher level. This would make it hard to lift restrictions."

"Under a second scenario, hospitalisations will drop further in order to reach a number below 100 at the end of the month. This is what we had hoped for. But if we want to reach this, people will really have to follow corona measures. And this is quite unpredictable. We will see next week where we are heading." 

Asked whether pubs and restaurants can reopen on 1 May, Mr Van Gucht hesitated for a while: "This will be a very hard political decision. Maybe they will have to introduce some conditions. Will it only be allowed in open air or not, and what about the distance between the tables? It will be a hard discussion."  

It will be a very tough political decision

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