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Belgium lays out rules to reopen terraces from 8 May

Credit: Belga

Belgium’s authorities have agreed on the rules and frameworks for the planned relaxations of the coronavirus measures, announced Prime Minister Alexander De Croo during a press conference on Friday.

“We start with good news: the vaccination campaign is running at full speed,” De Croo said. “So far, 72% of the over-65s have already received their first vaccine, and by the end of the month, we should see similar vaccination figures for the other risk groups.”

“The progress of the vaccination campaign allows us to say that, on 8 May the so-called ‘outdoor plan’ can come into force, meaning the terraces can open,” he said.

From 8 May, the terraces of the hospitality sector will be allowed open.

– Up to four customers per table can be served. Exceptions will be made larger for households.
– Terraces can open between 8:00 AM and 10:00 PM.
– There is no maximum number of people allowed per terrace, but tables have to be at 1.5 metres distance from each other.
– People have to be served at their table, and all staff have to wear face masks.
– When moving around, to go to the toilet for example, customers also have to wear a mask.

Also from 8 May, outdoor events, such as cultural performances, will be allowed for up to 50 people. As far as indoor events go, only some test events will be able to take place.

Youth activities can also continue with up to 25 people, but without an audience or an overnight stay, according to Flemish Minister-President Jan Jambon. “Additionally, children up to 12 years old can participate in indoor activities with up to ten,” he added.

From June, up to 200 people will be allowed to attend outdoor events. Indoor events will also be possible, with a maximum occupancy of 75% of the venues, also with a maximum of  200 people. Attendees have to wear a face mask and respect the social distance.

Fairs and flea markets can take place again.

“From 25 June, organised activities, both indoors and outdoors, can take place again with up to 50 people,” Jambon said. “For youth camps, overnight stays will also be possible from that date.”

For events in July and August, a decision will be made in the middle of May.

Summer camps for youth will be possible this summer in ‘bubbles’ of up to 50 people. Overnight stays are also allowed.

“We remain very cautious. We do not want to give prospects that we cannot realise afterwards,” De Croo said. “That is why we will meet again mid-May.”

“We have already given prospects on what we have a ready view on,” he added. “Get vaccinated. Accept the invitation. We are relaxing rules step by step because we do not want to make a mistake. We have all shown that we can handle responsibility.”

Priority must now be given to life outdoors, according to Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke.

“From June, we can think about life inside, when 80% of vulnerable people have been vaccinated, and no more than 500 people are in intensive care,” he added.

“Some vaccine manufacturers are already preparing vaccines to protect us from dangerous new variants,” Vandenbroucke said. “We are confident that our vaccines will protect us.”

The next Consultative Committee meeting is scheduled for 11 May.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times