The Belgians will remain confined until April 19. The current implementing measures are maintained. Any deviation will be punished.

Max HELLEFF

The Belgians will remain confined until April 19. The current implementing measures are maintained. Any deviation will be punished.

From our correspondent, Max Hellef (Brussels) – The National Security Council decided late Friday afternoon to extend the general confinement to which the Belgians have been subjected since March 17, and until April 19. The measure, which is perceived to be the most effective in dealing with coronavirus, can be extended if necessary until May 3.

For four hours, the federal and federated authorities (Regions and Communities) held firm discussions before reaching an agreement. In addition to extending the confinement, they ultimately opted to reinforce coercion measures in order to enforce it. Fines with immediate collection will be imposed on those who do not observe the rules of social distancing. “This is no longer a prevention phase,” insisted the Prime Minister, Sophie Wilmès (MR). Everyone’s health is at stake here. ”

From benevolence to repression: the police should now be intractable in applying the measures decided so far. Confirmation this Friday.

The strengthening of containment measures does not surprise anyone, although the number of hospitalizations fell significantly on Friday (490 against 605 the day before). According to epidemiologist Marius Gilbert, there are today in Belgium around 100,000 people with flu-like symptoms, probably linked to Covid-19. The peak of hospitalizations should not be reached until the first days of April. As of Friday noon, 289 deaths were attributed to the virus.

The rules, however, are clear. Travel is severely limited, schools and universities are closed, “non-essential” businesses shut down, social distancing and basic hygiene constantly rehashed, etc. But in reality, the police have continued to deplore the indiscipline of many Belgians. Minister of the Interior, Flemish Christian Democrat Pieter De Crem, however, was unable to obtain the approval of its partners as to the possibility of enforcing confinement up to the heart of the houses.

Maggie De Block in the crosshairs

For Emmanuel André, the voice of the Covid-19 inter-federal committee, “however there is a simple rule: if the measures are half applied, the time necessary for them to have an effect will be twice as long.” The medical world is afraid of being overwhelmed this weekend. To weather this storm, Sophie Wilmès’ federal government was granted special powers by Parliament on Thursday. 104 votes in favor, 8 votes against from the Communist ranks and 16 abstentions (Vlaams Belang, Flemish far right). The mandate is valid for three months, renewable once. It only concerns the fight against Covid-19 and remains subject to ex-post approval by the Parliament.

When the virus is defeated, there will no doubt be a vast settlement of accounts. Its main target will be the Minister of Health Maggie De Block (OpenVLD), accused by its opponents of having calamitously managed this crisis (shortage of masks and reactive tests; slowness in decisions, etc.) but also of having piloted the reforms of the healthcare system in recent years health by only taking account of accounting requirements.

The Flemish liberal will have to account for the shortage of masks. Only the urgency of the situation saves him the day.

Thursday in the House, the tension increased by several notches. Only the urgency dissuaded parliamentarians from fighting it. But while some projections already fix the public deficit at around 30 billion euros at the end of this health crisis (against 12 billion currently), two camps are emerging: one which intends to return to the previous situation and the other which no longer wants “old world”. Here as elsewhere, the epidemic could profoundly transform the country.

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