National Security Council decides on tough measures to tackle COVID-19

A meeting of the National Security Council on Thursday evening has resulted in a raft of tough measures to counter the spread of COVID-19. The measures that include the closure of all bars and cafés for the next three weeks and the suspension of classes in schools will come into force from midnight on Friday. People over the age of 70 are advised to stay at home wherever possible. Flandersnews.be has compiled a list of the measures that will be in force until 3 April.

Schools, crèches and universities

All lessons in schools will be suspended until after the Easter holidays. However, the schools won’t be closed and parents that wish to can leave their children at school to be looked after

Child care during school hours will be assured for those that work in the health, care and medical sectors or in jobs that ensure the safety and security of the public such as police officers. 

This is also true of children that would otherwise have to be cared for by their grandparents. Older people are an at risk group and should be exposed to infection as little as possible. 

Crèches will remain open

Universities and colleges of higher education have been advised to give lectures via live streaming to prevent students from gathering in numbers in lectures theatres and other enclosed spaces. 

Bars, shops, cultural activities and sporting events

 All recreational, sporting, cultural and folklore events (carnivals, processions…) have been cancelled. The ban applies to both public and private events.

Discotheques, cafés, bars and restaurants must remain closed. Take aways may remain open. Home deliveries of warm food (pizzas etc) will continue and drives ins may remain open. Hotels may remain open. However, if they have a restaurant, this must close. 

Food shops, shops that sell food for animals and pharmacies can continue trading as normal, both on weekdays and during the weekend.

 All other shops will be obliged to close during the weekend, but will be allowed to remain open during the week. 

Work

Everyone in Belgium is advised to telework if this is at all possible. By working from home you greatly reduce the number of contacts with people that potentially could be infected with COVID-19.

Public transport

Public transport service will continue to run as normal. However, the authorities ask that we only make essential journeys and if we must travel on the bus, tram, metro or train that we do so outside peak hours. Employers are asked to be flexible with regard to working hours. 

People over the age of 70 are advised to remain at home where ever possible. If they must venture out to, for example, buy food they are asked to do so at times when the shops are likely to be less busy.