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Brussels British Community Association

ICYMI - A Message from the Belgian Prime Minister, Sophie Wilmès

16 Apr 2020 10:50 AM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

BE-Alert: Coronavirus: measures extended until May 3

The following message from Prime Minister Sophie Wilm├Ęs was distributed via be-alerts.be on the evening of Wednesday 15 April.

"During the National Security Council (CNS) on Wednesday 15 April, several decisions were made. As always, these decisions are based on the advice of scientific experts.

It was decided at this meeting of the CNS, in consultation with the Minister-Presidents, to extend the containment measures currently in force until May 3 inclusive.

In order to make this containment extension more sustainable, we have also decided that:

  • DIY stores and garden centres will be able to reopen, under the same conditions as food stores. Safety distances must therefore apply.
  • We also allow residents of accommodation facilities - that is, nursing homes or centres for the disabled, for example - to be visited by a designated family member. This is allowed only if the resident in question has had no symptoms of the disease for two weeks. The visiting person should always be the same. Nursing homes will organize these visits. These rules will also apply to people who live alone and who cannot move.

The basic instructions remain unchanged until May 3 and must be observed. The police will continue to ensure this.

A new NSC will be organized next week and will aim to work out more precisely the next stage of deconfinement. Our objective is to be able to organize the gradual deconfinement for the beginning of May. Note that this will be an evolutionary process and based, as always, on the work of scientists.

This strategy will be based on several pillars, namely safety distances, large-scale screening but also tracing, and the development of new rules to apply in the world of work.

It is clear that wearing a mask - even a comfort mask - will also play an important role in the deconfinement strategy. A first report was sent to us by scientists and federal and regional health representatives. This tells us that, when the containment measures are gradually lifted, cloth masks will be recommended for any situation where the safety distances cannot be respected. This will notably involve national production. However, masks will not replace current hygiene measures (hand washing etc) and safety distances.

In the short term, the NSC will decide on the analyses and proposals of the group in charge of the Exit Strategy, in particular on the adequate timing and the conditions for gradual reopening of all shops and, eventually, cafes, restaurants and bars as well as the situation regarding schools, internships and youth movements and travel. It is already a given that no mass event such as festivals can be organized before August 31 inclusive.

Regarding the world of work, the current rules will remain in force until memoranda of understanding can be agreed and put in place, sector by sector. The objective of these protocols will be to allow companies to resume normal activity as quickly as possible, while ensuring the adequate working conditions of their employees and which will have to be adapted to the circumstances. Teleworking should continue to be favoured for some time to come."

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