Belgium will take steps to increase the size of bubbles in the country and further ease measures on the hospitality industry in the coming weeks as part of the second stage of the so-called "summer plan," Prime Minister Alexander De Croo announced during a press conference on Friday.
"The vaccines are going to bring back our normal life," De Croo explained, adding that there was a need to be fully vaccinated to be fully free, "so that second jab is incredibly important."
From 27 June, restrictions on the maximum number of people at one table at bars, restaurants and cafes will be relaxed, meaning a maximum of eight people can be seated at one table (unless your household is bigger).
This relaxation will also be extended to the number of people you can receive into your home.
Meanwhile, all businesses in the hospitality sector will be able to keep their doors open until 1:00 AM instead of having to close at 11:30 PM. They can still open from 5:00 AM.
Under the new rules, teleworking is no longer an obligation but remains recommended.
Shopping will no longer require specific restrictions on numbers. This means people can shop with more than one person again, and the time limit of 30 minutes per store is no longer applicable. Masks remain required.
The ban on gatherings will go away. This previously meant you could not gather in groups of 10 people during the day and 4 people at night.
The maximum number of people allowed at events will rise to 2,000 indoors (depending on the capacity of the venue) and 2,500 outdoors.
Religious services, weddings and funerals may accommodate up to 200 people inside or 400 people outside.
Youth activities and holiday camps will be allowed to have more people, and camps can also stay overnight again, with up to a hundred people present.
"Get your second shot," De Croo stressed. While 90% of those with an underlying condition have received their first vaccine, "only three in ten in this group have been fully vaccinated. This is important now that the Delta variant is on the rise".
The measures will also make it possible for more people to attend religious services and ceremonies such as weddings and funerals. More people will also be allowed to attend cultural and sporting events.
There is also good news for children and teenagers as youth camps with overnight stays such as those organised by the Scouts will be able to have more participants.
The End Is Near?
The next Consultation Committee will take place on 16 July, during which time the committee could discuss getting rid of the remaining measures, providing infection numbers continue to drop. "Then we will see if we can remove many of the remaining restrictions," De Croo said.
"The fact that we have a good situation now does not mean that we cannot do even better," Minister of Public Health Frank Vandenbroucke explained.
Lauren Walker & Jules Johnston
The Brussels Times