Museums, libraries, hairdressers, sports clubs and open-air markets to reopen: what's new on Monday?

PM Sophie Wilmès has announced the relaxation of a spate of corona restrictions after a meeting of the National Security Council this morning. There was good news about animal parks, museums , hairdressers, libraries, open-air markets, sports clubs etc. but certain conditions will, of course, apply.  

Here is a list of the main changes that will apply as from 18 May as part of phase 2 of the exit strategy:

  • Museums and other cultural attractions such as historic buildings can reopen. However, people will have to book their ticket ahead to avoid queues at the entrance. 
  • The same goes for animal parks and zoos. However, playgrounds and cafés on the site will remain closed.  Antwerp Zoo and the Planckendael animal park will give priority to season ticket holders during the first two weeks, they have announced in the aftermath of the PM's press conference. 
  • Libraries will open their doors again. 
  • If you like open-air markets in your town or village, you will be pleased to hear that these will be allowed again. A maximum of 50 stands has been imposed and consumers will have to follow a one-way circuit. While vendors will have to wear a mouth mask, this is not obligatory for shoppers, though this is "strongly advised". It's the local municipalities that will make the final decision on whether the markets will be reinstalled. 
  • You can also say goodbye to your corona hairstyle. Hairdressers can receive clients again, but need to follow certain hygiene guidelines, such as wearing a mask. Clients will have to make an appointment first and they too will have to wear a mouth mask. Other professions implying physical contact can also resume: this means you can have your nails done, or have that piercing or tattoo or pedicure, but under the same conditions as hairdressers. 
  • More people will be allowed at funerals and weddings, up to 30. This number had been restricted, a wedding ceremony in the city hall could only be followed by the two witnesses. This is about to change now, but receptions are still a no-go. 
  • Sports clubs can stage training sessions in open air again, with a limit of 20 people and only if a coach is present. Indoor sports cannot be resumed as yet. 
  • The Prime Minister also confirmed that the scheme for schools can go ahead as planned. Certain pupils will be able to return to school as from Monday. 
  • The next phase in the exit strategy is planned for 8 June. In the meantime, the effect of the downsizing on patient numbered will be monitored. 

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