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Stricter measures in Brussels as vaccination rate lags behind

Corona restrictions were eased across Flanders on Friday, but many measures remain in place in Brussels e.g. masking in shops and education.  Vaccination rates in the Belgian and Flemish capital remain too low to allow relaxations Brussels government ministers say.

“The vaccination rate is absolutely too low” says minister Elke Van den Brandt. “We want to be able to guarantee the safety of citizens in all circumstances.  That’s why we are keeping measures like mandatory masking and are introducing the Covid Safe Ticket e.g. in hospitality”.

The Covid Safe Ticket (CST) is the Belgian version of the EU Digital Covid Certificate and available via the CovidSafeBE app.

“Increasing the vaccination rate in Brussels is going frustratingly slowly.  There are several reasons: the composition of the population, the young population, but also media usage. As a government it isn’t all that easy to communicate and get your message across.  Moreover, the authorities are widely distrusted”.

“In Flanders many people watch VRT or VTM. That’s how you reach a lot of people.  This isn’t the case in Brussels. You need to work with intermediaries.  Material is available in many languages.  It hasn’t proved to be sufficient.  We need to approach people really close up.  We are visiting neighbourhoods and trying to convince people, but there’s a long road to go.”

Requirement to present the Covid Safe Ticket in hospitality and sports clubs for over 16s started on 1 October, but checks only kick in on 15 October. In hospitals and care homes it’s required from the age of 12.

“You want to provide safe surroundings for people in care.  That’s why the Brussels government has always been in favour of the CST in the care sector”. 

“Present vaccination rates are unacceptable.  That’s why we are doing everything to increase them, especially among the young. Among the eldest people vaccination rates are between 70% and 80%, but still need to increase. Our focus is on convincing the young.  It’s in the interest of society at large to ensure no new closures are needed and ordinary life can resume” says Van den Brandt.

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