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    Coronavirus: Belgium extends lockdown until 19 April

    Credit: Belga

    Belgium will extend its lockdown deadline until 19 April to contain the further spread of the new coronavirus (Covid-19), announced Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès during a press conference on Friday.

    Wilmès announced Belgium’s new shutdown deadline, and clarified several other measures, following a meeting with Belgium’s National Security Council, joined by the country regions’ Minister-Presidents. The meeting was much anticipated, as its outcome was expected to bring clarity on whether or not Belgium’s previous lockdown deadline of 5 April would be extended, and if so, until when.

    -The lockdown measures will be extended by two weeks, until 19 April.

    -After the two-week extension period, the situation will be evaluated, and the measures will possibly be extended for another two weeks, until 3 May. The situation will be monitored constantly.

    -Everyone must stay at home, except for “essential movements” such as going to and from work if teleworking is not possible, shopping for groceries or going to the doctor. The complete list is at info-coronavirus.be.

    -For outdoor activities, the aim is to keep moving. Meeting in a park and sitting there for a while is not allowed. People can only leave their homes for the duration of their physical activity and have to return home immediately after. Going to the Ardennes or to the coast for a day is not allowed.

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    -Teleworking remains mandatory for all non-essential companies. If teleworking is not possible, social distancing has to be respected at all times. If that is not possible, the company will be closed.

    -During the Easter Holidays, schools will have to remain open and provide childcare, like they have been doing. If that is not possible, groups of children that have been in the same care group should not be mixed with children who were in other groups.

    -People who do not respect the rules will be fined. “The phase of prevention is over, it is very important that everyone understands that,” said Wilmès.

    Maïthé Chini
    The Brussels Times