Shops selling non-essential goods to close, borders to remain open

The Consultative Committee made up of members of Belgium’s federal regional and language community governments has decided on a raft of further measures designed to help curb the spread of the novel coronavirus and reduced the pressure on our health care system. After a meeting lasting more than five hours the following measures were agreed. The measures will take effect at midnight on Sunday and will remain in force in the whole of Belgium for six weeks.   

The half term school holidays that began this evening will be extended to last two full weeks and will end on Sunday 15 November.

After the school holidays the pupils in the second and third grade of secondary school (from the third year of secondary school) will be taught for 50% by means of distance learning and 50% face to face. 

In higher education all lectures will be given by distance learning methods until the end of the year. The exceptions to this are first year students that will have some face to face teaching from 1 December and practicle lectures such as lab work. 

Shops selling non-essential goods must close

All shops selling non-essential goods will have to close. As during the spring lockdown the shops that will be allowed to remain open are those selling food (both for humans and animals), pharmacies and newsagents. Large supermarkets that sell a range of non-food goods, for example clothes and electrical goods, will be restricted in what they can sell. This is to prevent unfair competition. Those that wish to an order goods from shops selling non-essential goods can do so and have them delivered or go and collect them themselves. The ban on shops selling non-essential goods will be reassessed on Tuesday 1 December.  

As was the case during the spring lockdown so-called “non-medical contact professions”, hairdressers, barbers, nail bars, beauticians… will be forced to closed for as long as the measures are in force. 

Bars and restaurants in hotels will be forced to close as well. Hotel guest may only consume food in their rooms. 

From Tuesday 3 November all holiday parks will have to close. 

Just one visitor per household

Unlike during the first lockdown households will be allowed to receive  visitors. These visitors are a so-called “cuddle contacts”, someone with whom you have normal relations and don’t have to social distance with.  Each family member is allowed one "cuddle contact" each.  Those that live alone may have a second person that they can welcome into there home. Here though social distancing must be maintained or face masks worn.    Both in the case of families and those that live alone just one visitor at once is allowed. 

The “rule of four” remains in force for those meeting friends or extended family outside in the open air, for example to go for a walk or cycle ride. Here the standard measures regarding social distancing and face masks must be observed throughout. 

Telework mandatory

Telework will be mandatory where this is possible. Where this is not possible employers must ensure that their employees can work safely. This means that social distancing, the rules regarding face masks and every possible other measure must be taken to prevent the virus from spreading. 

Curfew remains in force, borders remain open

The curfew currently in force will remain so for the duration of the  lockdown. However,  unlike earlier this year Belgium's borders will not be closed. There will also not be a ban on non-essential journies. 

"2,800 patients in intensive care by mid-November"

In his introduction, the Federal Prime Minister Alexander De Croo (Flemish liberal) spoke of that immense pressure that our health care system is currently under. By mid-November there will be 10,000 COVID patients in our hospitals, of whom 2,800 on intensive care wards.

The Prime Minister called on Belgians to get behind those working in health care and the best way we can do this by limiting our physical contacts and not giving the virus the opportunity to spread. 

All the measure listed above come on top of the measures that are currently already in force.

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