Cheat Sheet: What relaxations have been postponed and what remains the same?
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Cheat Sheet: What relaxations have been postponed and what remains the same?

Credit: Belga

Belgium will be postponing several relaxations planned from 1 April as part of the “outdoor plan,” Prime Minister Alexander De Croo announced during a press conference on Friday.

The Consultative Committee met one week early, in response to the rising coronavirus figures, to analyse the situation and to re-evaluate the measures currently in place.

De Croo said the only way to stop the increasing infection rates and hospitalisations is by decreasing the number of close contacts people have.

As a result, the Consultative Committee has decided to put several planned relaxations on hold for the time being, and adapt some others.

These measures have been postponed or changed

  • Cultural events cannot be organised, even if held outdoors with a maximum of 50 people, wearing masks and respecting social distance, as was previously announced
  • Amusement parks will not be able to re-open their doors yet
  • The practising of amateur contact sports with 10 people will not be allowed to take place yet
  • The full-time return of the second grades of secondary schools has been postponed until after the Easter holidays, rather than from 29 March
  • Youth camps (for people up to 18 years old) will be able to take place during the Easter holidays, but only without an overnight stay, outdoors and in groups of maximum 10 children, instead of 25

It is not yet clear until what date the “outdoor plan” will be postponed, as the date depends on the evolution of coronavirus figures.

After the Easter Holidays, the planned relaxations are set to remain in place:

  • Secondary schools will still be able to return to full-time in-person education as previously expected from 19 April.
  • The ambition remains to re-open the hospitality sector on 1 May

Extra measures

The number of seats on trains to tourist destinations (like the coast) will be limited, and during weekends and holidays, passengers older than 12 years old can only use the window seats on trains.

These measures remain the same

  • Curfews remain the same, between midnight and 5:00 AM in Flanders and Wallonia, and from 10:00 PM to 6:00 AM in the Brussels-Capital Region.
  • Telework remains mandatory where possible. Rapid tests will be rolled out for workers in risk-sensitive sectors, such as police and firefighters, postmen and customs officers from Monday 22 March

The government has asked the different Ministers of Education to come up with a detailed and decisive plan to reduce the number of infections and clusters as soon as possible by Monday 22 March.

The Ministerial Decree will be extended until 30 April, with the exception of the ban on non-essential travel which is extended until 18 April, subject to parliamentary approval of the cooperation agreement on maintaining mandatory testing and quarantine of travellers.

For the full explanation of the measures, click here.

Update: This article was updated to specify that contact sports will not be allowed yet from 1 April, following clarification in the Ministerial Decree published on Sunday.

Lauren Walker
The Brussels Times