Here’s what you can and can’t do!

Belgium’s national security council has taken unprecedented measures to combat the coronavirus emergency.  Starting 12 noon today everybody is being instructed to stay at home as much as possible.  Only strictly necessary journeys are allowed including travel to and from and due to work, journeys to buy food, to visit a doctor or pharmacy.  The measures apply until 5 April.

The people of Belgium are being told to stay at home as much as possible and to avoid contact with others.

You may travel to and from your place of work. Essential travel is permitted: to food stores, the doctor, the post office, the bank, the pharmacy, to fill up with petrol and to assist people in need.  Moreover, you are allowed to exercise in the open air.  The government is encouraging this, but only with members of the same household or one friend. Gatherings are not permitted.

Non-essential stores are closed. Food stores stay open.  Hoarding isn’t necessary.  Supermarkets limit access to one customer per 10 square metres of store space.  Visits are limited to 30 minutes.

Chemists, stores selling animal feed and newsagents are open. Night shops must close at 10PM. Hairdressers may allow one client at a time.  Markets are closed, though stalls selling food may continue, if they are essential.

All pubs, cafés and restaurants are closed.  Outside pub furniture must be taken indoors.

You are allowed to go to work, but working from home should be the norm for every job that allows this. Businesses where this isn’t possible must apply social distancing rules.  Companies that flout the rules will be closed.  Heavy fines are also possible.

Exceptions will only be made for specified crucial sectors including medical care and essential services. A list of essential jobs will be released.

All school lessons are suspended.  Schools will continue to provide child minding for the children of health workers and public safety officials. Children, who otherwise could only be looked after by elderly people, may also attend.

Crèches remain open.  Universities and polytechnics are urged to organise distance teaching and learning.

All public and private leisure, sports and cultural events are banned.

Wedding ceremonies and funerals may proceed only with restricted attendance.

The Flemish government earlier decided to stop visits to nursing homes, psychiatric institutions and residential homes for people with a handicap. Day care centres are closed.

On public transport passengers must observe a distance of 1.5 metres. Non-essential travel abroad is banned. The airports stay open, but flights are few and far between.  Brussels Airlines has cancelled all flights till 20 April.

The government will strictly monitor compliance with these rules.  People flouting the regulations risk 3 months in jail and a 4,000 euro fine.  Any conviction will be recorded on your criminal record.

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