The Billy Plan (Le Plan Billy) - 4 - The COLONY

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Public Health authorities in Hong Kong began to anticipate a need.

As the pandemic took hold, they tested people in increasing numbers.


But they also quickly realized that those who tested positive should be isolated from the rest of society.


The city had a new public housing complex, not yet occupied, and in fact not even completed.


They quickly converted this into a quarantine facility.


Called the Chun Yeung Estate, it is a cluster of 40-story high-rises spread over five blocks.

It was designed to house nearly 5,000 apartments.


But last February, it was converted and prepared to house thousands of people if they had tested positive for the virus.


Housing for quarantine in HK



Stavelot is not in Hong Kong of course.


And for those who do not know Stavelot, it has no high-rises.




But that same question that faced those in Hong Kong last February, has been facing Stavelot as well.


And actually, from about the same time.


How should those who test positive for the virus, be managed ?


For many months, testing results for Stavelot were quite low. 


On April 20, 17 cases of SARS-CoV-2 positive tests had been reported.


On June 19, 28 cases, and by August 24, 35 cases.


There may have been a message in those numbers, but they stayed stable at 35 until September 7th when case 36 was reported.


Still not much evidence so far of attention having been given to thoughts of how to deal with an increased need for quarantining a part of the population, should that need arise.


The basic philosophy from Public Health was that anyone testing positive should simply stay home for 14 days (now down to 7 to 10 days).


This remains essentially the same recommendation today.


But in the interim, it was documented in many different studies that 70% of transmission of the virus to others, happens at home. The workplace was soon recognized as a source of frequent contamination as well.


Next, the case numbers in Stavelot began to change more rapidly.


Cas à Stavelot - 29 oct


Returning an infected person to the home environment (unless living alone) will not contribute to breaking the chain of transmission of this viral illness. It is too readily transmitted. Less than measles, but certainly more easily than influenza or even Ebola virus.


It is not being suggested that Stavelot should now start building high-rises.


But if positives in increasing numbers in Stavelot should not return to their home dwelling, with a very high risk of contaminating others, then where?


We can not offer here an easy or immediate answer.


The first hurdle is of course that many will not accept, will in fact refuse, to go anywhere else but home.


Are there other options

  1. What is currently present that could be, temporarily, converted to another purpose? 
  2. Where are there available spaces where temporary housing (during soon-to-be winter) could be erected?
  3. Who would install such temporary facilities to quarantine positive cases and markedly reduce further transmission?


In all of the above options, moving rapidly enough could probably not be accomplished with resources currently available in Stavelot. 

During the Laetare, Stavelot erects structures to enclose large crowds participating in events.

But this is not housing.

And such structures were erected and taken down in the course of a week or less.


But now occupancy for just a few hours or a week-end is of no use.


One soon begins to think of structures designed for disaster relief. Designed for human catastrophes like wars and floods and hurricanes and earthquakes.


And almost in the same breath, one has said: Army.

Part 3 of The Billy Plan is labelled "NATO & the Army" for this very reason.


Mostly as an experiment or learning process, initial outreach to such potential resources was made and results can be read here.


This is also clearly the time, before proceeding further, to open discussion with Stavelot's governing bodies. Absent that, any movement towards implementation of this Plan will quickly be opposed and even prohibited.


The above numbered options should be addressed in a team environment. Other options could certainly be added.


Here's an example: could the Benedictine Abbey in Stavelot, so closely linked to the history of the city, and now used for tourist activities, concerts and other offereings, be converted to an enclosed space (nice in winter), for quarantining positive cases?  Perhaps its cellars? Perhaps certain spaces (la Salle du Chapître) for specific targetted functions for a large group?


Would it be logistically better, and finally simpler, to provide a large open space for installation of the equivalent of disaster relief housing. Yet much more humane and liveable than tents and awnings.


The ultimate and immediate purpose is health care of a select population. Hopefully not, but some inhabitants of The Colony may suffer deterioration of health status during their quarantine. Temporary care at a more intensive level, or even an area to prepare such patients for transfer to another facility, should be included on the list of requirements.


Such an introduction to housing is quickly followed by requirements for food, sanitation, organizational spaces, and even amusements for psychosocial support.



Referring to it by that name was intentionally selected to avoid the word "CAMP."

Engrained in social memory in Stavelot are too many negative reminders that have not disappeared.


This is not about privation of personal liberty or freedom. It is about setting certain limits for health reasons, and in as organized a manner as can be put in place.


Recently, the mandated closure of hotels, restaurants and bars (HORECA) have been deplored, resisted and protested against by those involved. This is understandable. The COLONY might conceivably provide some relief for this sector as well if providers of food could get involved in its realization.


With its Laetare as a symbolic reminder of the importance of countering stress and unwinding emotionally, with a little effort from the numerous folkloric societies and those who guide them, a two week stay in The COLONY might even be fun.


Allowing those who are infected to return home, and even until now suggesting it, is not the solution.




26 October : Know when to go fast >>>>>>>>>>


29 October : From Ideas to ACTIONS >>>>>>>>>




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