Faced with a “worrying” upsurge in coronavirus cases, Belgium announced this Monday, July 27 a new tightening of measures to counter the pandemic, in particular in the province of Antwerp, in the north of the country, where a curfew is going to be set up.
“The epidemiological situation in the Antwerp region unfortunately obliges us to take additional measures”, declared the governor of the Flemish province, Cathy Berx, quoted by the Belgian press. She notably urged residents to “stay at home as much as possible” and visitors to stop coming.
She announced that the bars and restaurants would close at 11:00 p.m. and a curfew would apply from 11:30 p.m., until 6 a.m., excluding strictly necessary travel. Telecommuting is also required.
Objective: “to avoid generalized re-containment”
The mask becomes compulsory in public spaces for over 12s, and in places where the physical distance of 1.5 meters cannot be guaranteed. Contact sports are prohibited. The Flemish province concentrated 47% of the new infections recorded in Belgium last week.
Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès had earlier called local authorities to preturn “strong measures” quickly faced with an “epidemiological conflagration” In the region. On the whole of Belgian territory new restrictions have also been decreed to deal with the deterioration of the situation.
“We are very concerned”, commented Sophie Wilmès during a press conference in the afternoon after a National Security Council, stressing that the measures were intended to “avoid widespread re-containment and avoid endangering the September re-entry period “.
Private gatherings restricted to a maximum of 10 people
From Wednesday, the number of people Belgians are allowed to see closely and regularly as part of their “contact bubble” will be lowered from 15 to 5 people, per household, for the next four weeks.
In addition, the private gatherings (receptions, family reunions, wedding parties …) are restricted to a maximum of 10 people (not counting children under 12). Public events are limited to 100 people indoors (instead of 200) and 200 outdoors (instead of 400) and wearing a mask will be compulsory. Telecommuting is “strongly recommended”. Belgians must do their shopping alone and limit their duration to 30 minutes.
Of reinforced measures had already entered into force on Saturday, in particular the compulsory wearing of the mask in places with high traffic (markets, shopping streets …). The mask has been compulsory since July 11 in public transport, shops, cinemas, places of worship, museums and libraries.
85 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants
Prime Minister called on Belgians to be “patient” and “courageous” faced with these new provisions. “They must be respected at all ages, in all situations,” she urged, while most infections occur in those under 60.
The previous confinement was “extremely trying for most of our fellow citizens” and “we are at the dawn of an unprecedented economic crisis”, she said to explain the need to avoid a new “lockdown”. The measures led the mayor of Brussels Philippe Close to announce the cancellation of the Foire du Midi, the largest funfair in the capital.
On average, 279 people per day have contracted an infection with Covid-19 in the last weeke, against 163 the previous week. The country had 66,026 cases listed since the start of the pandemic and 9,821 deaths on Monday. Belgium is one of the countries with the highest number of deaths from Covid-19 compared to its population, with 85 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants.