© Gregory Van Gansen / Photo News

What changes to the lockdown measures will come into force during the coming week?

A number of changes that will see a relaxation of the measures brought in in mid-March to help curb the spread of the novel coronavirus will come into force over the next few days. For example from Monday shops selling non-essential goods will reopen and teams of contact tracers will start the job of contacting those that have been in contact with someone that has tested positive for the novel coronavirus. 

Visitors allowed from Sunday, but there are tight restrictions

From Sunday 10 May we will all be allowed to invite a maximum of 4 people into our homes. However, the four people we invite must always be the same four people.

Furthermore, the four people in our so-called bubble can only welcome the other members of the bubble into their homes. For example, a family of four, could see another family of four and the two families could visit each other’s (but no one else’s home. Alternatively four single people could form a bubble and visit each other’s homes. The group of four visitors don’t necessary have to all live under the same roof, although the experts say that this is preferable.

Even if not all members of your household have been to visit someone, the visit includes that person in the bubble for the whole family. The idea behind this rules is to allow people at least some social contact while at the same time minimalizing contact between different “bubbles”. 

A number of strict conditions must be respected at all times.

·        Social distancing of 1.5m should be maintained throughout. Shaking hands, cuddling or giving your friend or family member a kiss is prohibited.

·        If you have outside space (yard, balcony or garden) it is better to sit outside.

·        Anyone that is ill, however slight the illness might be, should stay at home.  

·        Extra caution needs to be given when visiting elderly or vulnerable people.

In addition to the four people you can visit/have visit you, you can also chose two other friends to go walking or engage in outdoor sporting activity with. These two sport buddies should always be the same two people. 

Shops selling non-essential goods reopen from Monday

As in the shops selling essential goods that are currently open, the shops selling non-essential goods that re-open on Monday 10 May will be limited to 1 customer per 10M². Small shops will form an exception to this. It is the employer’s responsibility to create a safe working environment for their staff.

Everyone should shop alone. Only children are allowed to be accompanied by one of their parents while shopping. Those that need assistance due for example to a physical handicap can also take someone else with them to the shops. The National Security Council has also called on us to use shops near to where we live or work and not to make journeys half way across the country to buy something that we could find in a shop around the corner.  

Day trip and tourist activities remain banned.  

Although not mandatory the wearing of mouth masks is “strongly advised”. Social distancing should be maintained throughout. If it is busy in the shopping street or mall you are advised to return later. Some towns and cities have introduced one way systems for shoppers in their main shopping streets.

Markets remain closed (with a very few exceptions) Food trucks and individual stalls are allowed at the discretion of the local authority.

Contact tracers to start work

On Monday 11 May the teams of contact tracers will start work. Their job will be to trace people that are infected and see who they have been in contact with. A total of 2,000 contact tracers will be employed by the regions and the German Language Community.

If you have been identified as a contact of somebody who tests positive, you will be asked to self-isolate for two weeks and take your temperature twice a day.

Anybody receiving a call will be asked to identify their contacts of recent days. The emphasis is on the two days before you became ill and the following days.  You may also be informed that you have been in contact with somebody who has tested positive.  This person will not be identified.

People who have tested positive may be asked to fill in a contact form by their GP even before they receive a call from the call centre. In this way the contact tracing can start immediately.  Questions include identifying persons you had physical contact with! It’s not the kind of information many people will be used to sharing.

Anybody, who is worried they might forget their contacts, can start keeping track right away!

People, who have been asked to self-isolate, may still go shopping for essentials and visit the pharmacy.  

Self-isolators may continue to work from home.  You will receive a quarantine certificate confirming you can’t attend your workplace.  The certificate may be issued by your family doctor or the call centre official under supervision of a health inspector. People unable to work will end up in temporary unemployment.  Independent professionals can count on a bridging loan.

Tests, tests and more tests

One of the most important planks of the exit strategy is increasing the number of tests for the novel coronavirus. Each day 25,000 people should be tested. 

Test day for schools on Friday 15 May

Stage 2 of the exit strategy sees the partial reopening of schools from Monday 18 May. However, on Friday Flemish schools will be holding a “test day”, a dress rehearsal of what will be the new normal in the weeks to come. 

Continue to strictly observe the rules on hygiene

You should continue to strictly follow the rules on hygiene

 

·        Stay at home if you are ill. 

·        Wash your hands regularly. 

·        Maintain social distancing of 1.5 metres. 

·        Meet as few people as possible, limit your social contacts.  

·        Wear a mouth mask on public transport and in busy places.  

Top stories