Belgium extends corona measures till 3 May

Belgium’s national security council, grouping the federal and devolved governments, has decided to keep measures intended to stem the advance of coronavirus in place at least until 3 May.

The measures are being extended, though there are slight relaxations: garden centres and DIY stores may reopen, but must follow the same rules as shops that are already open.

People in care homes for the elderly and the handicapped may receive visits by one designated visitor each.  This visitor must have been coronavirus symptom free for two weeks.

In addition the security council has also decided that no mass events like music festivals may be staged until at least 31 August.

Federal PM Sophie Wilmès (francophone liberal) told a news conference in Brussels: “Today nobody can say when we will once again have a normal life. There is still a long road to go and it is strewn with stones and full of holes. However, the prospect of a better future is within our grasp.”

“We took a set of difficult measures to protect the population.  It’s been a month of effort and sacrifice, but the number of hospital admissions has fallen.  Still new deaths occur on a daily basis.”

“Behind the cold statistics are real people, who suffer and who died.  There are families in mourning in difficult circumstances.  Health care workers are struggling on a daily basis to save lives.”

“Though the spread of the virus is slowing, the crisis hasn’t yet passed”.

Flemish education minister Ben Weyts (nationalist) has indicated that next week he wishes to produce a target date  for the reopening of Flemish schools.