Flemish PM says Flanders could go it alone with relaxations of the coronavirus restrictions

The Flemish Prime Minister Jan Jambon (nationalist) has told VRT News that Flanders could decide to relax the restrictions designed to curb the spread of coronavirus before other regions in Belgium. Speaking on our televised Sunday morning topical discussion programme ‘De zevende dag’, Mr Jambon said that if the difference in vaccination levels between Flanders on the one hand and Brussels and Wallonia on the other continues to grow, we will need to look at whether Flanders can’t relax coronavirus restrictions ahead of the other regions. 

Flanders is currently top when it comes to the percentage of the adult population that has already received at least one shot of coronavirus vaccine. Just shy of 30% of all Flemings over the age of 18 have received at least one jab. Wallonia is just behind that at just under 29%. 

However, the Brussels-Capital Regions is way behind Flanders and Wallonia with just 22.5% of adults living there having been vaccinated so far. Willingness to get vaccinated appears to be an issue. Mr Jambon suspects that this may be due to greater exposure to French media among people in Brussels and Wallonia. 

French television, radio and print media give far greater exposure to the views of anti-vaccination campaigners and those that are sceptical about the merits of and motivation for mass vaccination than is the case in most other European countries.

Mr Jambon believes that if a time comes that the vaccination campaign in Flanders has progressed sufficiently to allow for the measures to be relaxed, but another region is lagging behind it would be very difficult for him to defend the Consultative Committee putting on the brakes.

As only just over a quarter of the adult population has been vaccinated so far, the differences between the regions in absolute figures are still not too great. However, “If these differences grow as the vaccination campaign progresses this will be an element about which we will need to take decisions”, Mr Jambon said. 

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