Belgium keeps lockdown over Christmas, with small exceptions

Stores will be reopened under strict conditions. In addition to the mouth mask obligation, only individual shopping will be allowed, with an exception for people accompanying a person in need of help, for a maximum of 30 minutes. [EPA-EFE/OLIVIER HOSLET]

Belgium’s Consultative Committee has decided to open non-essential stores from 1 December, after retailers were forced to close a month ago, for the second time this year. It was, however, more difficult to find a deal on how to celebrate Christmas and the New Years.

Stores will be reopened under strict conditions. In addition to the mouth mask obligation, only individual shopping will be allowed, with an exception for people accompanying a person in need of help, for a maximum of 30 minutes.

In addition to the shops, the swimming pools and museums may also reopen from Tuesday if they follow the protocols of their sector.

As for the Christmas holidays, singles are allowed to celebrate Christmas with two contacts (one ‘cuddly contact’ and one contact for whom the distance rules apply). Normally, the two people are not allowed to meet, but there will be an exception applied on 24 or 25 December.

For meetings outside, the rule of four remains.

On New Year’s Eve, just like in the Netherlands, there will be a  general fireworks ban, but the curfew will be shortened: from midnight until 5 am.

There will also be stricter checks on travel.

Anyone who has been abroad for more than 48 hours or will stay in Belgium will be more strictly checked for completing the Passenger Locator Form and for compliance with the mandatory quarantine.

“Foreign travel is absolutely not recommended,” Health Minister Vandenbroucke told VRT Nieuws. “Anyone who wants to do it must be quarantined and the police will check it.”

(Alexandra Brzozowski, EURACTIV.com)

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