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Much like exercise, visiting partners leads to confusion in corona crisis

17:16 30/03/2020

According to a spokesperson from the National Crisis Centre, residents should not visit their partners if they do not live under the same roof as them. The question has popped up regularly in the media as it exists in a grey area and therefore makes it difficult for police to assess the situation.

The confusion stems from whether heading off to the home of a partner is an ‘essential trip’ outside of the house. While Flanders’ minister-president and the federal government’s official website says that it is, Yves Stevens of the National Crisis Centre says that it is not.

Two weeks ago, Flemish minister-president Jan Jambon said that visiting your partner during the crisis was not only allowed, it would “be sad” if it wasn’t. He repeated this sentiment at the weekend.

“According to the guidelines, you are allowed to go walking or jogging with one other person,” Jambon told VTM. “That can be your partner, so, yes, you can go to their home.” He noted that “if they live on the other side of the country, that is more problematic than if they live in the same city as you”.

Should I or shouldn’t I?

Stevens, however, contradicted the statement, saying that it is not the time to get creative with the government’s guidelines. “There are 11 million people in Belgium, and we can’t make separate rules for all of them,” he told VRT. “You should ask yourself: Is what I’m doing right now for the best to protect myself and my community from the coronavirus? Visiting your partner doesn’t fit in there.”

Stevens did say that if your partner lives in your area, going walking or cycling together was fine. But visits to and from each other’s homes is not.

The government wants to avoid different social circles coming into contact with each other. The official guidelines have long-term couples who do not live together in mind, assuming that they have the same social circle. Stevens, however, has young people in mind.

“Teenagers have huge social circles, so the virus could spread like wildfire,” he said. “They really shouldn’t be visiting each other.”

KU Leuven virologist Marc Van Ranst also pointed to the inherent risks of mixing families. If you and/or your partner have children, bringing anyone in these families in contact is too much of a risk to take.

So the question remains: Should I or shouldn’t I? Common sense appears to be key here. If your partner does not live in the same city as you or either of you have children, don’t visit. If they live nearby, there are no children, and you share the same social circle, there is less risk of spreading the virus. Still, keep visits to a minimum.

Photo ©Capuski/Getty Images

Written by Lisa Bradshaw