From Monday 8 June, Belgium has officially started its third phase of deconfinement - by far the most extensive change so far - as the country begins to work towards a form of new normal.
The relaxed measures mark a new approach from the Belgian government towards the virus, as the country begins to approach a world where more things are allowed than not.
“The indicators are encouraging, as we can see in the daily reports of the figures,” said Wilmès. “To be honest, it’s looking better than we and the experts expected at the moment. This is the result of the collective effort of all of us,” she added.
“At the beginning, we started by banning everything, there was a kind of lockdown. Nothing was allowed except for some activities. From 8 June, we will be able to reason differently. Everything will be allowed, except the activities that are specifically forbidden,” Wilmès said.
With that, here is a quick recap of what has changed from today:
Bubbles grow: The four-person bubble is a thing of the past, as Belgium is now allowed to see 10 different people per week in addition to the household, but is advised to be cautious of risks posed to at-risk groups such as people over 65 years of age.
Have a drink or a meal: Many cafés, bars and restaurants will be open from Monday, with a whole set of new rules. See the rules for customers here.
- Coronavirus: About 7% of Belgians have antibodies in their blood
- Cheat-sheet: The new rules for customers returning to bars
- Exit plan: phase 3 starts as planned from 8 June
Keep fit: Sports activities can resume indoor or outdoor this Monday if they are contactless, limited to 20 people, and respect rules. Swimming pools, saunas and wellness centres remain closed at this stage. As it stands, everything should be allowed again from 1 July, providing progress continues.
Religious: Religious ceremonies can resume this Monday, as long as standard measures are respected, and with a maximum of 100 people present. Procedures that require physical contact, however, remain prohibited.
Travel and Tourism: Trips within Belgium, such as to the coast or the Ardennes, are allowed again, for one or more days. Cross border traffic to neighbouring countries, except France, is also allowed. Travelling abroad to further countries within the Schengen zone, however, will have to wait until 15 June, if the country of destination allows it.
Back to School Saga: In education, after having opened the possibility of full resumption of classes in nursery schools on 2 June, primary schools also have this possibility as of this Monday.
Work: Teleworking is still recommended as much as possible. Sectors that want to restart from the office may do so only under certain rules, which will are to be determined in negotiations with experts.
Chill Out: Leisure and relaxation activities are also allowed, with the exception of conferences, amusement parks and indoor playgrounds, which will only be allowed from 1 July onwards. Anyone wanting to go to a night club or a party will have to wait until the end of the summer.
The next phases of deconfinement will take place in July (phase 4) and August (phase 5) epidemiological conditions permitting.
Jules Johnston & Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times