COVID-19: social distancing becomes official Belgian government policy

Belgian Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès (Francophone liberal) has announced new measures to stall the spread of the coronavirus that causes the COVID-19 disease. Belgian health minister De Block (Flemish liberal) says now is the time to act: “We must prevent a large number of people becoming ill in a short space of time and ending up in hospital.  This would put pressure on care workers.  Waiting any longer isn’t an option.”

Belgians are being encouraged to work from home if possible.  Businesses are being told to allow their staff to work from home where this is possible and to allow flexible working hours.  In this way employees will be able to stagger journeys on public transport.

Everybody is being advised to take some distance in social contacts. The advice is also to postpone school trips abroad. School parties and school trips that last longer than one day are discouraged.

The government is recommending that indoor events grouping over a thousand people should be cancelled.  The measure does not affect outdoor events. 

Interior minister De Crem (Flemish Christian democrat) meets Belgian provincial governors tonight.  Together with local mayors they will have the task of ensuring this measure is implemented.  The ban will last for the whole of March.

People at high risk of being infected are advised to avoid large crowds.

Belgians and all other people living in the country can still go to work, use public transport and attend school. 

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