Experts’ advice to Consultative Committee leaked

The Consultative Committee made up of representatives of Belgium’s federal, regional and language community governments will meet tomorrow to discuss measures to curb the spread of coronavirus. On Monday evening the members of GEMS, the group of experts that advises politicians on measures they might wish to take met and made a series of recommendations. Not for the first time these recommendations have been leaked. 

Although it recommends tighter measures to curb the spread of the virus, GEMS doesn’t go as far as recommending a full lockdown like that which is currently in force in The Netherlands. 

The list of recommendations is a kind of menu of suggestions for measures that the experts believe will reduce the circulation of the virus. The political leaders at Wednesday’s Consultative Committee meeting can decide to implement all, some or none of the measures suggested. Equally they could decide to implement (some of) the measures in a watered-down form. 

Although the figures relating to the coronavirus pandemic are now falling, the Omicron variant of the virus is in the ascendancy. As yet little is known about the variant except that it is highly contagious. The country’s politicians' aim is to contain the spread of the Omicron variant sufficiently to ensure that schools can reopen as planned on Monday 10 January. 

The recommendations made by GEMS

Limit visits in private homes to groups consisting of a maximum of 2 to 3 households.

Extra measures for the hospitality industry including a ban on the sale of alcohol after a certain time or bringing forward closing time to 8pm and even the complete closure of hospitality outlets.

The cancellation of all indoor and outdoor events with a few eventual exceptions.

The further extension of mandatory telework with a maximum of 1 day at the workplace per week or where possible full-time telework.

Measures for shops and contact professionals ranging from people only being able to shop alone to limits on the maximum number of shoppers in a store and even the closure of shops selling goods deemed to be non-essential as well as contact professionals’ businesses such as hairdressers and nail bars.

Limiting the maximum number of passengers allowed on public transport (bus, tram, train, metro) to 50% of full capacity.

We should know on Wednesday afternoon which, if any, of these suggestions the Consultative Committee decides to take on board.



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