While Belgium’s coronavirus figures continue to drop and a series of relaxations will go into force tomorrow, health officials urged the population to remain cautious in the coming weeks.
The decline in infection rates is occurring in all age groups and in all provinces, and the pressure on hospitals is “decreasing rapidly,” said Crisis Centre spokesperson Yves Stevens at a press conference on Tuesday.
“However, the fact that the figures have been going in the right direction for weeks and we can relax rules tomorrow does not mean that we are rid of the virus once and for all,” he said.
“In the coming weeks we will also have to remain vigilant, or as Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said on Friday: it is driving forward and looking backwards at the same time,” Stevens said.
“The saying ‘the sting is in the tail’ should not apply to this already too-long crisis,” he stressed.
“From tomorrow, enjoy a film at the cinema, take your children to the funfair, work out with friends at the gym, enjoy a meal at your favourite restaurant,” said Stevens. “We have all been looking forward to it for a long time, now is the time to do it again, with respect for the precautions.”
Additionally, a number of measures that will apply from tomorrow have been discussed at length over the past few days, but some have not been highlighted as much.
– no more time limit in shops. “You can go in pairs or with people belonging to the same household as you,”
– night shops can remain open until 11:30 PM,
– the general ban on selling alcoholic beverages between 10:00 PM and 5:00 AM will be lifted,
– fairs, flea markets,… can reopen, and be visited in groups of a maximum of four, excluding children under 12 years old. “This rule of four, of course, does not apply to households consisting of more than four family members.”
– the collective use of shishas remains prohibited in places accessible to the public. “Individual use, however, is allowed.”
“These legal precautions should ensure that the still present virus does not gain strength,” Stevens said. “But above all, our behaviour will ensure that we can keep the virus under control in the coming weeks and months.”
The basic rules, which we have known for more than a year, will continue to be “of paramount importance” in the coming weeks, he stressed, referring to washing your hands regularly, respecting the social distance and staying home when feeling ill.
“Tomorrow is a day that many people have been looking forward to, and we will take a new step in the summer plan, and carefully return to our normal lives,” Stevens added. “With respect for these simple rules, we will make it a great summer together.”