Belgium’s security council that groups the federal and devolved governments took the decision at its meeting on Monday amid growing concern about the rise of corona cases. Belgian PM Sophie Wilmès told a news conference the new measures would take effect on Wednesday 29 July and remain valid for a month at least.
All 5 contacts must remain the same for a whole month. Social distancing need not be observed in this bubble.
If social distancing can be observed a household can meet up with ten adult contacts e.g. for activities outdoors. Flemish PM Jambon explained: “A household can meet up with 5 other adults – always the same people. You can go down the pub with ten others, but then social distancing needs to be maintained.” Belgian health minister De Block confirmed that no more than ten people would be allowed to sit at tables in bars and restaurants at one time.
Until now everybody was allowed 15 contacts a week.
Indoor events are being limited to 100 people, 200 outdoors - down from 200 and 400 respectively. Face coverings at such events are obligatory.
Relaxations to shopping are being reversed. Belgian health minister De Block said shopping would be subject to stricter rules. “We are acting where we know there are problems”. In future shoppers will have to do their shopping alone and not with friends or family. However, minors and people who need assistance may be accompanied. Store time is being limited to 30 minutes per shop unless you have made an appointment. The sales will go ahead.
The people of Belgium are once again strongly advised to work from home.
What are called ‘unaccompanied events’, e.g. family gatherings, daytrips and other gatherings are being limited to groups of ten people children not included.
People participating in sports lessons and attending wellness centres will have to be registered.
The free rail pass that everybody was supposed to get has been delayed until September.
Local authorities have been instructed to take forceful action if the epidemic worsens. “They have been given all the powers to act” said Ms Wilmès, who also had a clear instruction for Antwerp: “The urgent situation in Antwerp requires forceful measures that need to be taken immediately.”
“The most important approach is our individual approach. What can I do to combat coronavirus and protect my loved ones? This is the question we must always ask. If we can’t beat it, it will be a collective failure” the Belgian leader concluded.