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What does Belgium’s reduced social bubble mean?

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Belgium’s National Security Council’s decision to drastically reduce the size of people’s social bubbles immediately caused confusion in the country, as the number of people you were allowed to see in different situations did not seem to match up.

From Wednesday 29 July, people in Belgium will have to reduce their social contacts to 5 people per household, but trips can still take place with a maximum of 10 people.

Despite Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès’ insistence that the measure was “pretty clear and simple,” her cabinet had to clarify the measure after the press conference.

“You choose 5 fixed contacts with your family. That’s your bubble, which you get to meet. If you want to meet up with that bubble, for example at a restaurant or for a trip, you may not exceed the limit of 10 people,” her cabinet clarified. Children under 12 years old, however, are not included in this measure.

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New rules always take some getting used to, according to Wilmès.

Respecting the necessary social distance is not always easy with people you are close to, acknowledged Wilmès. “We know the reality, so we give this extra flexibility for five people outside your family,” she said, adding that these must be the same five for the next four weeks.

The same measure also counts for weddings, banquets, receptions and private gatherings, she stressed. “We are reducing the number to 10 people,” Wilmès said.

“This is a very difficult decision for all of us,” she said. “We know that from the moment we put a limit on the possibility to have close social contact with people, we touch directly upon people’s individual freedom, and that is difficult. But this is absolutely necessary,” Wilmès added.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times

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