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Antwerp lifts coronavirus curfew as infections decline

Antwerp Governor Cathy Berx © Belga

Antwerp Governor Cathy Berx announced that the mandate imposing a late-night curfew in the province will not be renewed after it expires tonight.

The obligation to wear a face mask on all public places in the province, applicable to all residents over the age of 12, will also be lifted.

From midnight on Thursday, residents of the Flemish province will be released from a months-long curfew which required them to retreat indoors for most of the night.

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The Antwerp province will still remain subject to the nationwide regulations decided in the latest National Security Council (NSC), namely those restricting social contacts between people.

The lifting of one of the strictest coronavirus measures imposed in the country since the nationwide lockdown, Berx said, was possible after the number of new infections plateaued in past weeks, De Standaard reports.

“Currently the R-value is of 0.83 in Antwerp,” she said, referring to the basic reproduction number, an epidemiological indicator of the number of new infections a single infected person can create.

The curfew had been imposed on the entire province in late July as the number of new coronavirus cases surged, particularly in the city of Antwerp.

Imposing the curfew on 28 July, Berx had said that it would remain in place for at least four weeks and would require all residents to remain at home and all businesses to close down from 11:30 PM to 6:00 AM.

As the number of infections began to decline some two weeks into the curfew, authorities shrank the curfew hours to from 1:30 AM to 5:00 AM.

Announcing the end of the measure on Wednesday, Berx acknowledged that the string of curfew-related measures imposed since July had been “draconian” and that they had given rise to feelings of frustration among residents.

“What pleased me is how strongly the measures have been complied with,” she said, adding that the number of recorded infringements had been very limited and thanking residents more than once.

“All these efforts have made a difference, I am grateful to everyone for that,” she said. “I thank all Antwerp residents and I sincerely hope that we never have to experience another month like this.”

Gabriela Galindo
The Brussels Times

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