More than 20 citizens from Hasselt participated in a digital citizens’ summit under the euPrevent COVID-19 project on 19 June. The professionals and experts listened to the personal and emotional stories of these citizens and were all touched by the dedicated attitude of the citizens from Hasselt.
Due to its unique location in the Euroregion Meuse-Rhine (EMR), Hasselt and its citizens underwent unique experiences during the corona time. The fears and uncertainties Hasselt citizens experienced especially at the beginning of the pandemic were probably familiar to many. However, the cross-border working and lifestyle of people from Hasselt were heavily impacted due to all kinds of restrictive measures related to COVID-19. Notably, most citizens showed understanding of the changing policies and most of them adapted their behaviour to comply with the corona-related regulations. What they were most afraid of is the more lenient rules from the other side of the border might have a negative effect on the corona infections in Belgium.
Most Hasselt citizens showed confidence in their government, but the information people received on COVID-19 comes from various governmental levels (federal, regional and local) and people tended to get confused as the information is not always consistent. Many citizens found it useful to have an app such as BE-alert.
Hasselt citizens also expressed their concerns about the shortage of healthcare workers. They believed the use of a bonus might be a good way to show our respect for the health care sector, but it would be more effective if this could be incorporated structurally. According to the experience of most Hasselt citizens, the vaccination programme operates well, but it is not always clear how the prioritisation is set and executed, and sometimes people are confronted with an awkward situation that a high-risk patient is not fully vaccinated whereas a healthy person already is.
For more information on the citizens’ summit and euPrevent COVID-19 project, see https://euprevent.eu/summits-covid/.