"We are taking a huge step towards freedom," says Flemish PM

The Flemish Region announced a spate of relaxations of corona restrictions yesterday: mouth masks will no longer be necessary in various places. Brussels residents will have to show more patience though, and exceptions are also possible for separate municipalities, including those close to the Brussels Region. 

Flanders will abolish face coverings in shops, restaurants and cafés as from 1 October. 

The vaccination rate among adults has exceeded 90 percent which puts Flanders among the best performing regions in the world. However, local municipalities will still have the option to impose different rules if they think these are necessary. 

PM Jan Jambon (nationalist) added that 80 percent of the Flemish youngsters have already had a first jab. "We have taken a big step towards freedom", he concluded at a press conference after the Consultative Committee. 

While the relaxations apply for the whole of Flanders, individual municipalities can still decide to uphold certain restrictions at a local level. Antwerp is considering exceptions, as are a number of Flemish municipalities situated at the edge of  Brussels. There should be more news about this early next week. 

Earlier, federal PM Alexander De Croo had started the press conference by saying that Belgium as a whole is ranked among the top countries in Europe and the world where vaccinations against Covid are concerned: "This is something we should be proud of." 

Hence the possibility of further relaxations, but Flanders, Brussels and Wallonia each had to decide on their own if they would follow or not. 

We are ranked among the top countries in the world where the vaccination rate is concerned and we should be proud of this

Federal PM Alexander De Croo

Flanders did, but Brussels did not, given the relatively low vaccination rate of just over 60 percent. "No relaxations here", the Brussels PM Rudi Vervoort (Francophone socialist) confirmed. 

In a nutshell: mouth masks remain mandatory in shops, restaurants and pubs, and the use of the Covid Safe Ticket is being extended to convince more people to get the jab. 

Wallonia still has to take a decision. Walloon PM Elio Di Rupo (socialist) does not want to go too fast and think things over first. 

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