‘It will be a Christmas that people will remember, but not for the sake of fun. Nobody likes this, but it is now ‘, virologist Marc Van Ranst responds to the decisions of the Consultation Committee. ‘This is all we can afford at the moment. It is sad when you are used to large family parties, but there is no other way ‘, says Van Ranst.
Virologist Van Ranst thinks it is logical that little will change for the time being outside the reopening of the shops. According to him, it is also good that the shops reopen on a Tuesday and not, for example, on a Saturday. He also calls on cities and municipalities to avoid ‘difficult moments such as shopping Sundays’.
Van Ranst also finds the reopening of the museums quite logical because it is a ‘controlled environment. Museums were also among the first sectors to reopen in the spring. ‘Museums are actually shops where everything is too expensive and where you are not allowed to take anything with you. It is a place where you can control who enters, where you can control the flow and where you usually do not have a large crowd. ‘
Federal Prime Minister Alexander De Croo (Open VLD) made it clear that real easing could only take effect in mid-January. ‘The different scenarios do indeed point to January, then the number of infections would be low enough again. But it is difficult to put a number on how many infections we would have exactly. A lot depends on the end-of-year period, a lot can still happen in a month and a half. ‘
Van Ranst is also pleased that the swimming pools can be reopened. ‘I think we kept the pools closed for too long during the first lockdown. The government has now learned from that. ‘
According to Van Ranst, Belgium currently ranks 21st out of 31 in Europe in terms of the number of infections. ‘And we really have to have the ambition to go to last place. It took the second hard lockdown to get here. Our neighbors may be able to celebrate Christmas with more relaxation, but they were not hit as hard as we were. We cannot afford more than this, ‘he concludes.