Belgium has once again gone into a lockdown, as the country tries its hardest to fight back against the spread of coronavirus in the country.
The previous weeks, however, have seen mounting changes and new rules (regional and national) which may have left the most observant struggling to follow, and that’s not the aim.
So as Belgium settles into 6 more weeks of strict measures, here’s a bare-bones recap of the rules you need to know to get by.
First Announced: 30 October
Went into effect: 2 November
Timeframe: Until 13 December
Autumn break: Extended until 15 November.
Bars, cafes and restaurants: Closed, takeaway possible until 10:00 PM
‘Cuddle contacts’: Limited to a maximum of 1 person outside your household. People who live alone can have one ‘cuddle contact’, and meet one extra person.
Brussels-Capital Region: 10:00 PM to 6:00 AM
Flanders: midnight to 5:00 AM
Wallonia: 10:00 PM to 6:00 AM
Cultural venues: Museums, galleries, theatres and cinemas are closed.
Contact professions: These – including hairdressers, beauticians and estheticians – must shut down.
Primary Schools: all pupils will still go to class.
Secondary Schools: the pupils of the first grade will stay in class. For the second and third grades, only 50% of pupils will be allowed to go to class. The other 50% will have to follow distance education.
Higher education: will switch to distance learning until the end of the year. For first-years, however, some form of in-person learning will be possible again from 1 December.
Gambling venues: Betting shops, casinos and arcades closed.
Garages and bicycle shops: Can only carry out repairs.
Hotels and other forms of accommodation: Restaurant must be closed, food can only be eaten in rooms.
Holiday parks: Have to close from Tuesday 3 November. Until then, all organised indoor and outdoor activities have been scrapped.
International travel: The borders are not being closed, in accordance with European agreements, but travelling abroad is strongly discouraged.
Markets: Can remain open, but can only sell products that are on offer in essential shops.
Marriages, funerals, cremations, services:
At funerals and cremations, a maximum of 15 people are allowed. Gatherings afterwards are no longer possible.
Marriages can only take place in the presence of the spouses, witnesses and the needed civil servants.
Places of worship can remain open, but services cannot take place.
Masks: The rules have not changed.
Brussels-Capital Region: Wear a mask at all times.
Flanders: Wear one on public transport, in busy places, and on streets where local authorities made it mandatory.
Wallonia: Wear one on public transport, in busy places, and on streets where local authorities made it mandatory.
Outdoor gatherings: still allowed with a maximum of four people, while respecting the social distance and wearing face masks.
School trips: Cancelled, including those that take place outdoors.
Shopping: A complicated issue which saw clarification over the weekend. Supermarkets and related businesses are allowed to remain open, but will not be able to sell goods usually available in other stores closed as a result of measures.
• Food stores, including night-shops
• Shops selling food for animals
• Newspaper shops and book stores
• Service stations and fuel suppliers
• Telecommunications stores (except stores that only sell accessories) and only by appointment
• Medical device stores for emergencies
• General DIY supply stores that primarily sell tools and building materials
• Garden centres, nurseries, florists and plant stores
• Speciality retail stores that sell clothing fabrics, knitting yarns and haberdashery items ️
• Wholesale stores intended for professionals only
• Laundries and launderettes
• Garages, limited to breakdown and repair services, and bicycle shops, limited to maintenance and repairs
• Independent service providers
All other shops have to close, but pick-ups or home deliveries of products ordered in advance remain possible.
Amateur: Suspended, but children under 12 may take part in training, if outdoors, and can be accompanied by one adult.
Professional: Professional matches can be played behind closed doors, without an audience.
Sporting venues: All facilities (including gyms, tennis courts and swimming pools) are closed.
Takeaway: Takeaway restaurants can stay open until 10:00 PM.
Teleworking: Mandatory. If that is not possible, face masks and social distance are obligatory.
Zoos: Have to close.
Jules Johnston & Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times