New measures to help us fight the spread of COVID-19

At press conference held at 9am on Friday morning several new measures designed to help curb the spread of the novel coronavirus were announced. The measures come on top of the measures that are already in force. They will remain in place for the next four weeks. However, the Federal Prime Minister Alexander De Croo (Flemish liberal) told the press conference that whether they remain in force beyond that will depend on the behaviour of all of us. 

Agreement on the additional measures was reached by the members of the Consultative Committee that is made up of representatives of Belgium’s federal, regional and language community governments shortly after midnight. 

From today (Friday 23 October):

·        No spectators will be allowed at professional sports matches. Previously up to 200 spectators were allowed at indoor events and 400 at outdoor events. Individual clubs could ask for the agreement of the local authorities to allow them to welcome more spectators. For example, Belgium’s professional football clubs drew up protocols that were agreed to by their respective municipal or city authorities allowing them to welcome more fans.

·        All amateur sports competitions for adults are now cancelled. Training may continue. Youth sport match too will be allowed to carry on. One parent or guardian will be allowed to accompany each child.

·        Universities and colleges of higher education will only be allowed to teach 20% of their courses via physical leactures or seminars. Practical lectures, eg. in a laboratory, form an exception as do first year courses,  50% of which can be taught physically with the rest being taught by digital distance learning means.

·        Theaters, cinemas and concert halls will not be allowed to welcome more than 200 spectators. In cinemas at least two seats’ space must be left between (groups of) film-goers. Exceptions that were applied for large halls such as Antwerp’s Sportpaleis will now not be applicable until at least 19 November. Spectators (or family/bubble groups) must sit at least 1.5 metres from each other. Food and drink are banned. Face masks are mandatory.

·        The Flemish Prime Minister Jan Jambon (nationalist) also announced that the Flemish public transport company De Lijn will increase the number of busses and trams during peak times in an effort to relieve overcrowding. 

·        Youth movements such as the Scouts and the Chiro will have to organise their activities for children over 12 outside. Mouth masks will be mandatory and activities involving overnight stays are banned during school term time.  

·        Theme parks such as Plopsaland, Walibi,…will be closed. Only the open air areas of zoos will be allowed to remain open. Here too the sale and consumption of food and drink is forbidden.

All the above listed measures will remain in force until (at least) 19 November.  

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