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Saint-Josse keeps 14-day quarantine as Belgium drops to 7

Credit: Saint-Josse-ten-Noode

The Brussels commune of Saint-Josse-ten-Noode announced that it will stick to the mandatory quarantine period of 14 days – even though Belgium reduced it to seven days – as part of its extra measures against the spread of the coronavirus on its territory.

On Monday, after a Municipal Crisis Unit meeting, the municipality decided to strengthen its measures to combat the coronavirus spread on its territory. The new measures will take effect from Tuesday and remain in force for a month.

The municipality will not follow the decision of Belgium’s National Security Council to reduce the mandatory quarantine period from 14 to seven days, but stick to the two-week rule.

Additionally, Saint-Josse’s swimming pool, municipal library, youth centres, sports halls and the Musée Charlier will close, Kir announced. All indoor sports activities (except for championship matches) and non-essential activities will also be cancelled.

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With 629 confirmed coronavirus infections per 100,000 over the past two weeks, Saint-Josse is the hardest-hit municipality in Belgium, according to Sciensano’s figures.

“At a time when the figures are particularly worrying, at the level of the Commune, the Region and the country, we had to react quickly and in a coherent way with regard to the situation,” mayor Emir Kir said in a press release. “While the message of the federal authorities is paradoxically one of relaxation, ours has a different tone.”

These restrictions come on top of the ones introduced by the Brussels-Capital Region over the weekend, which will see bars and restaurants closing at 11:00 PM, after which gatherings of more than ten people are not allowed.

Saint-Josse “cannot ignore the specifics of our territory,” Kir said, referring to the commune’s high population density, and the many workplaces as well as bars and cafes, which exposes the commune more to the spread of the virus.

The Commune of Saint-Gilles, which has the sixth-highest incidence rate with 368 confirmed infections per 100,000 inhabitants, is not taking any additional measures for now.

“We are, of course, monitoring the situation closely, but for the time being, we are keeping a watchful eye on the busy commercial axes. Think of Place Saint-Gilles, the Louise district and Ma Campagne,” Saint-Gilles mayor Charles Picqué told Bruzz.

While Picqué understands the decision of Saint-Josse to tighten its measures, he also regrets the lack of uniformity.

“It is a bit annoying. The policy should be more streamlined. All communication about it now falls between two stools. But we have to take a lot of decisions in a short period of time, and that does not make it easy,” he added.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times

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