Music festivals can go ahead as from mid-August and Pukkelpop (photo) will seize this opportunity, planning things at full capacity.
Ymke Dirikx

Virologists warn that the spate of relaxations may be too much too soon: "Is this wise?"

Renowned virologists have expressed their concerns after the different governments in Belgium announced a whole series of relaxations with regard to corona restrictions for the coming summer. "Many things are being relaxed at the same time. Is this wise?" asked Erika Vlieghe, the president of the expert panel GEMS which advises the government on which measures to take or to scrap. However, PM Alexander De Croo says the latest decisions are justified. 

Professor Erika Vlieghe (UAntwerpen) wonders whether this is a good time to give up so many restrictions. "There are many things on the agenda for June at the same time. Is this wise? Is this a good moment to relax the present measures? We are dealing with a big unknown factor, the Indian variant. It is gaining ground fast outside India now, including in Belgium. We are concerned about that." 

Virologist Steven Van Gucht is filled with joy that people can look forward to a better future, but remains cautious. The fact that relaxations will be following one another at a high pace in the coming weeks and months "makes me concerned. I think the Concertation Committee is taking a risk there." 

Mr Van Gucht also thinks that the maximum number of 500 Covid patients in Intensive Care (IC)  wardens, which has been set as one of the conditions for major relaxations - could have been more ambitious for July and August. 

Hospitals and IC specialists would have preferred the government to wait and see what the impact will be of last weekend's relaxations, when the terraces and cafés opened again and big crowds gathered together. 

The risk factor will become a personal choice

PM Alexander De Croo

PM Alexander De Croo (Flemish liberal) told the VRT that the latest decisions are justified: "The vaccination campaign is going fast. 90 percent of the people aged over 65 has been vaccinated."

"Until now, the measures were there for everyone to protect the most vulnerable in society. But as from June these will enjoy protection after being vaccinated. So we will enter a new phase, you will take the risk yourself. If you decide to go to a music festival, you know that is not without risk - although the risk will be small. It is like driving a car: there is always a small risk, but this doesn't mean you should leave it in the garage." 

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