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Antwerp eases Coronavirus measures, keeps curfew

Antwerp province will officially begin to slightly relax coronavirus fighting measures, Antwerp Governor Cathy Berx (CD&V) announced at a press conference on Wednesday.

The changes, which mostly centre around fitness clubs and group sports, also see slight adjustments to mask-wearing ahead of the approaching heatwave.

Mask Exceptions

While it remains mandatory to wear masks covering your nose and mouth across the entire region for anyone above 12 years old, Berx announced some adjustments ahead of the imminent heatwave.

“For people who can’t wear a mask for medical reasons, there will be an adjustment,” said Berx, explaining that instead those people will be allowed to wear the otherwise banned face shields.

During heavy physical work – such as construction or for garbage truck workers – a mask will no longer be compulsory, due to the very low risk of transmission.

Furthermore, Berx addressed the potentially confusing nature of measures, and the fact that they can be at times absurd. “Those who only walk the dog in a deserted street can obviously never infect anyone. He who walks on the Keiheuvel on his own, neither”, she explained.

In the face of fear of punishment for adhering to the relaxed measures, Berx added that police will check the rules with more “caution”, to avoid needless punishments. “If you’re alone in the car, you shouldn’t wear the mask”, she added.

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Fitness centres

The relaxed measures mean that fitness centres – forced to close last week – will once again be able to open, albeit under strict conditions.

This allowance is based “on the understanding that each club will display visibly and legibly the correct information on the surface of the business, as well as the number of gym users that may be present in accordance with the provisions of the protocol. The person in charge of the fitness centre must at all times be able to show how many gym users are present,” explained Berx.

Group sports

Organised sports will once again be allowed for children under 12 years of age, providing that “Groups are limited to a maximum of 50 people, and sports are always carried out under the supervision of a person in charge who ensures correct compliance with the protocols”.

Young people from 12 to 18 years old can also play sports once again, but “groups are limited to a maximum of 10 of the same people at any one time,” unless in the framework of a summer camp.  In the case of one-on-one contact sports, the wearing of a mouth mask is also required.

Adults can once again play sports, but with a fixed group of up to 10 people, and only contactless.

This relaxation applies to the entire region, including the most affected zones (Aartselaar, Antwerp, Boechout, Boom, Borsbeek, Brasschaat, Edegem, Hemiksem, Hove, Kapellen, Kontich, Lint, Mortsel, Niel, Ranst, Rumst, Stabroek, Schelle, Schoten, Wijnegem, Wommelgem, Zwijndrecht). The conditions applied, however, will be even more strict.

Jules Johnston
The Brussels Times

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