Flexibly Confused

I’m not entirely sure about this:

A committee of coronavirus experts has come up with a plan to tighten or relax social contact rules in Belgium depending on the situation in a particular province.

Presently, the rules on how many people you can have in your social bubble are determined nationally. What the Celeval group of experts is proposing is that this approach should be determined locally, based on factors such as numbers of coronavirus hospitalisations in a given province.

Given that most of the cases at the moment are coming out of Brussels and Antwerp, there is some logic to allowing some variation between these and other regions. It does, however, take another step away from having a single, clear set of rules towards expecting people to navigate multiple, and not always clear sets of rules.

People don’t generally pay that much attention so complexity is often best avoided.

RTBF quotes an unidentified source pointing out that there are already colour code systems for education and travel. I’m not convinced that this is relevant, though.

In the case of education, for example, the rules can vary, but we are able to rely on the affected schools to let us know whenever something changes that we need to know about. I’m not convinced a provincial government would be able to send out such updates to everyone, even if they wanted to.

The National Security Council meets later today, so we will find out soon enough just how confusing things are set to become.

7 thoughts on “Flexibly Confused

  1. How bad is it in Belgium? Here, the rules are pretty much like the confused one you mentioned. The national government releases guidelines but the local government units can adapt or impose their own depending on the situation on their town. The problem is some mayors use this to abuse power. It drives me nuts.

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    1. On the whole, Belgium isn’t doing too badly and, I think, that part of that is that it has been (for the most part) very clear exactly what rules people should be following.

      That said, back in July when the numbers of cases started to rise, we did have additional rules — including additional rules about mask wearing at the provincial level. On top of the provincial rules, we had a local interpretation of those rules from the town in which I live.

      While each of these levels of rules made sense individually, we did end up with three sets of rules and a loss of clarity as to exactly when we should wear a mask, and when we didn’t need to.

      With masks it’s quite easy to just wear the things whenever you are uncertain, but if we are talking about social bubbles things are less simple, and may well cause resentment when people don’t see the need for differeing rules.

      In short, I think clarity is essential and I fear that this may be lost if we start having varying rules at the provincial level and below.

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    1. Nothing major has changed, they’re just settling in for the long haul — managing risk rather than controlling the spread of the virus.

      It’s this Reference Number that is going to be… interesting. If the number of allowable close contacts goes up and down too frequently, people are joust going to ignore it.

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  2. This thing has, if nothing else, showed where a lot of weaknesses are in countries’ governments and individuals all over the world. In my opinion the simpler the rule the easier it is to follow.

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