Belgium divided in the fight against the pandemic

Belgium was divided with the decision of Brussels and the five French-speaking provinces particularly affected by the spread of the coronavirus to impose very restrictive measures and thus to go much further than the federal government, anxious to avoid a new confinement .

• Read also: All developments in the COVID-19 pandemic

Authorities in the Brussels region, following the Walloon government on Friday evening, have toughened the system to which citizens and businesses will have to comply in an attempt to curb contagion and prevent the collapse of the hospital system.

“The situation is very serious,” said Minister President of the Brussels region Rudi Vervoort, explaining on Saturday the adoption of the very restrictive measures approved by the mayors of the 19 municipalities of the capital.

From Monday, the curfew, introduced in Belgium from midnight to 5 a.m., was brought forward to 10 p.m. and extended to 6 a.m. in Brussels and throughout Wallonia.

Teleworking, advised by the federal government, is made compulsory when it can be practiced in Brussels and Wallonia and controls will be reinforced.

In Brussels, wearing a mask is also becoming compulsory everywhere, shops will have to close at 8 p.m. and it will no longer be possible to shop as a couple or as a family.

Museums, churches, sports halls, casinos and betting agencies will be inaccessible in Brussels, sports competitions and excursions are prohibited.

Schools remain open, but universities will close in Wallonia. However, the town of Mouscron, near the border with France, decided on Saturday to close all schools on Monday until the All Saints holidays because of the numerous absences of teachers.

The Walloon government considers that these measures constitute “partial re-containment”. It was requested by experts as a necessary “electroshock”.

“We will not get out of this if what we decide today does not have popular support,” insisted Rudi Vervoort.

The effects of the measures will be visible in 10/15 days, Brussels officials estimated.

The authorities of Flanders, the Dutch-speaking part of the kingdom, also very affected by the pandemic, in particular the region of Antwerp, remain on the measures decided at the federal level and Belgium will therefore be divided from Monday in the fight against the pandemic .

“What is this country! “

Prime Minister Alexander De Croo spoke to the press on Friday of “a national crisis situation” in view of the latest figures, the threshold of 10,000 new daily cases of COVID-19 having been crossed.

287,700 people have been infected since the start of the pandemic, of which 10,658 have died, according to data provided by the Sciensano Health Institute on Saturday. Hospitals had 4,061 Covid patients on Saturday, including 632 in intensive care.

Belgium, which has an average incidence of around 620 cases of coronavirus per 100,000 inhabitants, is only overtaken within the EU by the Czech Republic (668), where a partial containment was decided on Thursday for twelve days. .

The kingdom on Friday was close to 500 hospitalizations per day, a level not reached since the first week of April.

But the Flemish liberal prime minister wants to stick to the line fixed since he took office on October 1: “absolutely avoid a new confinement”, like the one that the Belgians experienced from mid-March to mid-March. -May and which Ireland or Wales re-imposed this week. The recession promises to be brutal for Belgium with an expected fall in GDP of 7.3% this year.

“What the hell is this country! “The French-language daily Le Soir rebelled on Saturday in a vitriolic editorial against the government.

“We will be told that in all federal countries it is complicated, but today Belgium has just displayed a culpable amateurism, at a time when hospitals are collapsing”, laments the daily.

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