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bars and restaurants closed for a minimum of 4 weeks, a curfew in place throughout the country

Cafés and restaurants will close in Belgium from Monday for four weeks and a curfew will be in place from midnight to 5 a.m. in order to stem the spread of the coronavirus which “skyrockets“, announced Prime Minister Alexander De Croo after a government crisis meeting.

Week after week, the numbers are doubling, they are skyrocketing (…) it’s an exponential increase“, explained Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, after a government crisis meeting. The Flemish liberal leader has decreed the closure of bars and restaurants throughout the country for a minimum of 4 weeks and the establishment of ” a curfew from midnight to 5 a.m., while Belgium is one of the European countries most bereaved by the pandemic (more than 10,300 dead).

“Avoid the worst”

For'”avoid the worst“, he announced a series of new restrictions for social life, the most spectacular of which is the total closure of the Horeca sector (restaurants and cafes) for four weeks from Monday. An evaluation of the measure will take place mid-term, a Mr De Croo said, and there will be economic support from the government.

“The numbers we see today are significantly higher than what we saw in March and April when we took very restrictive measures at that time. On all dimensions: number of confirmed cases, number people hospitalized, number of people in intensive care and number of people sadly deceased. We are well beyond the numbers that we saw in March and April and they are often twice as high. “

Alexander De Croo, Belgian Prime Minister, Friday October 16, 2020

Until now, the closure of cafes only concerned the Brussels region and ran until early November. The measure is therefore extended to the whole country and also concerns restaurants, which sector officials immediately described as “catastrophe“.

Other measures: the sale of alcohol will be prohibited from 8:00 p.m. and any exit on public roads prohibited between midnight and 5:00 a.m. “curfew” at national scale while two Walloon provinces had already implemented it a few days ago, with the aim of preventing private parties.

It is still possible to invite four people to the house as long as you respect the distances, as announced a week ago, but the contact says “close“(without mask) is now limited to one out-of-home person.

Acceleration of hospitalizations

For the Minister of Health Frank Vandenbroucke, “the situation is extremely serious“from a health point of view,”we must avoid the total slippage in health care“.

Belgium, a country of 11.5 million inhabitants, on Friday recorded 191,959 cases of coronavirus and 10,327 deaths, which makes it one of the European countries most bereaved by the pandemic reported to its population. As a consequence of the sharp rebound in infections since September, especially among students, the rate of hospitalizations and deaths (especially affecting the elderly and frail) has clearly accelerated in recent days.

The Brussels region and several French-speaking provinces had to activate the second level (out of four in total) of the national emergency plan providing for reserving for “Covid patients” 50% of hospital beds in intensive care.

Numbers as high as they were in March

Our hospitals are overcrowded (…), the figures are as high as they were in March when we decided on a lockdown (confinement, editor’s note)“for two months, the Minister of Mobility Georges Gilkinet told RTBF. Several ministers insisted on the need to avoid”absolutely“the re-containment and closure of schools, hence the severity on public and private gatherings.

Businesses must continue to operate but “teleworking becomes the norm for functions that allow it“, also said Alexander De Croo. The cultural sector (theaters, cinemas etc) will be able to continue its activity while strictly respecting the existing health protocols and the”gauges“set up in the rooms.

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