Belgium's Security Council: 'Return to normal not yet possible'

Belgium's Security Council: 'Return to normal not yet possible'

Belgium has adapted the restrictions to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus in the country, announced Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès during a press conference on Thursday.

"The measures we took at the end of July are proving to be effective," said Wilmès. "Yet the virus is still present in our society."

"Unfortunately, we know that no measures can completely stop the virus until there is a vaccine. The virus will continue to circulate for some time, we will have to learn to live with it," Wilmès said.

"What we absolutely want to avoid is that we arrive at a breaking point, a point we cannot come back from. We will always have to stay vigilant," she added, to make sure we do not have to return to a full lockdown.

The reproduction number in Belgium has dropped to 0.9, meaning that 10 infected people cause an average of 9 new infections. "The virus is still circulating, but not as strongly as a few weeks ago."

A return to normal is not yet possible, Wilmès stressed.

The national obligation to wear a face mask where necessary remains in force.

As announced before, all pupils will be able to return to school on 1 September, in code yellow. This means back to school in a full-time five-day week. For pupils over 12 years old and teachers, a face mask will remain compulsory.

Gathering after a funeral will be allowed with up to 50 people.

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The social contact bubble of five people you are allowed to be in close contact with will be extended until the end of September. The same rules that were announced in July will remain in force. This means that seeing friends and relatives outside the bubble is still allowed. In that case, however, people have to respect the social distance, and never gather with a group of more than 10 people.

Going shopping will be allowed with a maximum of 2 people, and there will no longer be a time limit, from Monday 24 August. Shopkeepers, however, can still decide to stick to the one-person rule.

Events, such as sports competitions, congresses or cultural events, can take place with 200 people if indoors, and 400 when the event takes place outdoors. Face masks are still mandatory.

Cross-border couples who are not married, but can prove that they have a lasting relationship, will be allowed to cross borders to see each other again, from 1 September.

Additionally, Wilmès stressed the importance of getting tested when returning from a red travel zone again.

"The intention is definitely to create stability," Wilmès said. "As always, continue to take care of yourself, continue to take care of others."

Maïthé Chini

The Brussels Times

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