Belgium called on to go into all-out lockdown as EU mulls border closures
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    Belgium called on to go into all-out lockdown as EU mulls border closures

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    Belgium is facing calls to mirror steps taken by other EU countries and hike up containment measures against the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

    Bart De Wever, leader of the N-VA, said the government must double down on measures to slow down the spread of the virus among the population, in comments which come less than one week after bars, restaurants and leisure sites were forced to shut and school lessons suspended.

    “I would like to ask the federal government to impose an evening curfew, for example from 10:00 PM, on all non-essential outings,” the leader of the biggest party in Belgium stated on live TV, also calling on gatherings of more than 10 people to be prohibited.

    “We need measures that are much more drastic, we can see it in the rising curve of confirmed infections,” he added, in comments which came just days after Spain imposed a lockdown and sent the army out on the streets to enforce it.

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    On Monday evening, French President Emmanuel Macron followed in the footsteps of his Spanish counterpart and announced strict restrictions on movement, with citizens required to hold a certificate attesting they are out for health, work, or other vital reasons.

    Trade unions and business leaders reportedly back up the idea, with several companies already taking action by taking measures which go one step beyond the official measures.

    Francophone daily La Libre said that an unidentified official source confirmed that the government was mulling going into a new phase of containment “very soon,” with measures potentially expected on Wednesday.

    “The new measures must still be streamlined but they will be announced very soon. In that case, we would effectively go into a new phase and a curfew could be introduced,” the source said.

    “We have always said that things could evolve, the most recent measures were taken based on indications such as the overwhelming of hospitals,” virologist Emmanuel André, one of the leading experts of the government’s coronavirus committee, told Le Soir.

    “The term lockdown is very symbolic — we are already deep into measures that are not far from it, and we are also waiting for some coordination on the European level,” he added.

    EU27 leaders are set to hold a video conference on Tuesday with the EU Commission in order to discuss calls by the bloc’s executive, already heeded by France and Germany, to shut down the external borders of the Schengen zone.

    Gabriela Galindo
    The Brussels Times