Belgium on Friday decided to close all cafes and restaurants for four weeks, as well as set a curfew to combat the rapid spread of the new coronavirus.
Prime Minister Alexander de Croe announced the new restrictions, which will take effect on Monday, following a meeting of the Belgian government’s crisis unit. He warned that the number of Covid-19 cases in the country is growing “exponentially”.
With 11.5 million inhabitants and more than 10.3 thousand Covid-19-related deaths, Belgium is one of the worst affected countries in Europe by the pandemic. As of Friday, 191,959 infections and 10,327 deaths have been registered in the country.
“Week after week, these numbers are doubling, they are rising rapidly (..) this is an exponential increase,” the prime minister said at a news conference.
The Brussels region ordered the closure of bars and cafes last week, but on Friday it was announced that the restriction would be extended to the whole country.
The new restrictions also include a curfew from midnight to 5 a.m. to deter people from having parties at home, and a ban on selling alcohol after 8 p.m.
De Cro said working from home should now “become the norm”. Theaters and cinemas may operate provided that social distance is respected.
In recent days, more and more Covid-19 patients have been hospitalized in the country, especially in Brussels and the Francophone provinces of southern Belgium.