Belgium goes into partial lockdown

Belgium Prime Minister Alexander De Croo (L) gives a press conference after a committee to discuss new restrictive measures after a spike of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infections in the country, in Brussels, Belgium, 16 October 2020. [EPA-EFE/STEPHANIE LECOCQ]

Belgium is set to tighten its COVID-19 measures with new rules coming into effect on Monday (19 October), after the country recorded rising coronavirus infections and hospital admissions.

According to the announcement made by Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo made on Friday (16 October), the country was lifted to the highest preparedness phase (Phase 4).

Here’s a short run-down of measures put into place:

Curfew: Comes into effect between midnight and 5:00 AM, for all people leaving their houses for non-essential reasons.

Social contacts: Limited to one close contact (hugging buddy) outside the own household, while at home you can receive a maximum of 4 people, always the same ones for a period of two weeks provided that the 1.5 meters are respected.

Teleworking: Will be mandatory where possible (if not possible, you must be guaranteed to be able to work in safe conditions).

Horeca: Bars and restaurants will be closed for four weeks, with an evaluation of the measures and situation after 2 weeks. The takeaway will be possible until 10:00 PM, but there will be a ban on selling alcohol after 8:00 PM.

Food markets can stay open, following all measures that are already in force. Christmas markets, winter villages, and flea markets, however, will not be prohibited.

According to de Croo, the federal government plans to put into place an financial support package for the businesses affected.

Protocols in the culture and sports sector will be reviewed next week.

Over the weekend, Belgium’s Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke warned of an impending ‘tsunami’ in Brussels and Wallonia.

The “tsunami” would be a situation in which “we no longer control what is happening,”  Vandenbroucke told RTL-TVi on Sunday, warning that Brussels and Wallonia are dangerously close to such a situation.

According to the latest numbers provided by the Sciensano health Institute, the average number of new infections per day, calculated between 8 and 14 October, continues has risen to 7,388, which represents an increase of 88%.

At the same time, a total of 2,255 COVID-19 patients are currently hospitalised in Belgium.

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