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    Cheat-sheet: What changed on 25 May?

    Despite not officially moving into another phase, Monday 25 May still sees several changes to how deconfinement is progressing in Belgium.

    Here’s a quick recap of the latest changes:

    Phase 2 of the return to school: Following 6th year of primary and the final classes of secondary school, the possibility to return to class is now extended to the pupils of the 1st and 2nd year of primary, as well as to those of the 2nd secondary.

    This, however, ultimately remains the responsibility of the school management, which can decide based on organisational capacities, its premises and security conditions.

    Prison Visits: Visits to prison are once again possible but under certain conditions. “One visit per prisoner and per week, preferably always the same person. Minors will not be allowed, and a safe distance must be observed,” said Justice Minister Koen Geens.

    In response to this, the CGSP (General Confederation of Public Services) filed a strike notice for 2 June. “We are obliged to file a strike notice for all Belgian prisons,” the union said in a statement denouncing the resumption of visits on 25 May when, according to the union, security is not yet guaranteed for staff, inmates and visitors.

    Resumption of court: The court of assizes – the trial court which tries the most serious crimes in the judicial system of Belgium – resumed its activities on 25 May.

    The trial of Chadi Nouach, a Moroccan migrant accused of the murder of a 46-year-old Brazilian woman committed during the night of 18 to 19 April 2018 in Schaerbeek, is currently ongoing.

    Next Phases

    Belgium’s next National Security Council will take place on 3 June, a few days before the theoretical start of the country’s “Phase 3” of the exit plan out of lockdown from 8 June.

    On Wednesday 3 June, representatives of Belgium’s federal government and federated entities, and experts will discuss the third phase, and “specify the phases that will follow,” according to Belgian Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès.

    “The focus will be on the cultural sector, sports and the hotel and catering industry,” the statement on Wilmès’ website said. “It will also look at when and to what extent it will be possible to allow more social contacts, to allow religious ceremonies to take place again and to allow events of different sizes to take place this summer,” she added.

    Several major issues, such as the possible reopening of cafés and restaurants, and travelling abroad, also remain on the table.

    Jules Johnston
    The Brussels Times