Antwerp has moved to relax a curfew imposed to curb a rise in new coronavirus infections and ease restrictions on businesses, with officials touting a rapid drop in infection numbers.
Antwerp Governor Cathy Berx announced that the late-night curfew imposed in late July will be shortened by three hours, with residents required to be indoors from 1:30 AM to 5:00 AM.
“The viral curve in the province is slowing down faster than anywhere else in the country,” Berx said announcing the adjustments on Wednesday.
When the curfew was first imposed in late July, residents were barred from going out in public and all businesses had to shut down from 11:30 PM to 6:00 AM.
The adjustment of the measures will also allow restaurants, bars and cafés to remain open until 1:00 AM and to accept larger groups in a single table, De Morgen reports.
Up to five people belonging to the same bubble will be allowed to sit at a single table in bars and restaurants, up from the previous maximum number of four.
A maximum of ten people who live in the same household can also sit at a table together, and staff must continue to collect the contact details of customers and keep them for four weeks.
The relaxations come as the province is well into its third week of a four-week late-night curfew, bringing relief to the badly-hit catering and hospitality sector.
Public gatherings of more than 10 people, including children, remain prohibited and sales of all alcoholic drinks are banned between 10:00 PM and 6:00 AM.
Announcing the measures, Berx said the province had recorded a slowdown in the rate of new coronavirus infections, saying the basic reproduction number (R-number) of the virus —used to estimate the number of people one infected person can infect— had slid back to below 1 (0.99).
When officials raced to contain the virus’ flare-up at the time the curfew was imposed two weeks ago, the r-number in the province had been nearly at 2.
With one week to go before the curfew is lifted, Berx said that mayors could still move to impose stricter measures at a local level and urged residents to keep sticking to the rules.
“Continue making an effort, don’t ruin it for others,” she said.
The Brussels Times