Major relaxation of corona restrictions from 8 June

Belgium’s security council that includes representatives of the federal and devolved governments has announced further relaxations of measures introduced to stem the spread of corona virus.  On 8 June Belgium moves to Phase 3 of its Exit Strategy.

Addressing a news conference in Brussels PM Sophie Wilmès said: “We started by banning everything.  There was a lockdown.  Starting 8 June we will think differently.  Freedom is our point of departure.  Everything will be possible, except the things that are banned.”

The prime minister spoke of 6 individual golden rules including hand hygiene (washing hands, not shaking hands) and organising activities out of doors if possible, if not, in properly ventilated spaces.  Extra precautions must be taken for people in risk groups.  Social distancing remains necessary except for people in your household, your extended social bubble and with children under 12.

At present your household is able to meet up with 4 other people, who may enter your home.  It must always be the same people and they form your social bubble.  This now changes. The number of people in the bubble is counted per person and per week and is increased to ten. Gatherings must not exceed ten people children included.  This applies indoors and outdoors, also at restaurants.

Social distancing is not required for people in your personal bubble.

All eyes were on what the council would decide with regard to the hospitality industry. Bars and restaurants will be able to reopen if social distancing – 1.5m distance between people from different households - and other measures are observed starting 8 June. No more than ten people will be allowed at one table. Bars, restaurants and night shops will be able to remain open till 1 AM. Nightclubs remain closed till the end of August.

Religious services including funerals too will be able to accommodate up to 100 people starting Monday rising to 200 on 1 July. Starting 1 July cinemas and theatres will also be able to reopen. Cultural activities without an audience or crowd, e.g. rehearsals,  may be staged from 8 June onwards. From 1 June cultural activities can accommodate 200 people.  Cinemas and theatres too will reopen with a ceiling of 200 people in the audience and social distancing will apply. Casinos too may reopen on 1 July. Fairs will be permitted from 1 August.

All sports activities may resume from 8 June.  These include training sessions and matches, indoors and out.  Some restrictions including social distancing will apply.  Changing rooms and showers will not be accessible. Training for contact sports like judo, football, wrestling and basketball must be contactless for everybody aged 12 or more. Fitness centres may reopen but safety measures will apply. Wellness centres, saunas and swimming pools remain closed until 1 July.

Restrictions on contact sports will be eased over the summer and a seated crowd will also be admitted.

Starting 8 June trips in Belgium for one or several days are permitted.  You can visit other cities, make a trip with your caravan or spend several nights away from home, e.g. at a hotel or B&B. Amusement parks reopen on 1 July.  Summer camps for youngsters are permitted too but are limited to a bubble of 50 people. Starting 15 June the Belgian authorities are allowing trips abroad within the EU plus the UK, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Liechtenstein. People travelling from these countries will also be admitted to Belgium. Individual countries may impose restrictions on travellers from Belgium.

Night clubs and discos may reopen on 1 September when it will once again be possible to stage a party.  Mass events remain banned until the end of August.

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