COVID-19 selected news snippets for Monday, 4 May 2020.
Welcome back from the May Day weekend! As of today some #COVID-19 measures are being relaxed in Phase 1a of the Belgian ‘deconfinement’ schedule. But what exactly is changing?
- Businesses (only B2B) are reopening.
- More children can go to the nursery.
- As of today, everyone over 12 years of age must wear a face mask (or equivalent) on public transport.
- There are more options for sports and outdoor activities. For example, from now on it is allowed to meet two people for outdoor sports.
- Hospitals may readmit non-urgent consultations.
- But all other measures will continue to apply. The Bulletin has published a comprehensive guide to what is, and what is not, allowed.
Sciensano update of 4 May. 361 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Belgium over the past 24 hours of which 32 (9%) were in Brussels. To date, a total of 50 267 confirmed cases have been reported in Belgium with 5 164 (10%) cases located in Brussels.
In the past 24 hours, just 59 patients with COVID-19 have been hospitalised and 69 people left hospital. Between 15 March and 3 May, a total of 15 655 patients with COVID-19 have entered hospital and 12 378 people have left.
80 new deaths from COVID-19 in Belgium have been reported in the past 24 hours of which 8 (10%) were in Brussels. To date, a total of 7 924 deaths from the disease have been reported in Belgium of which 1 227 (15%) were in Brussels.
Read the full daily report (in French) here.
On Wednesday 6 May the British Embassy is holding a virtual drop-in session on its facebook page. Do you have questions on your rights as UK national resident in Belgium, or wish to share your concerns or experiences of the current COVID-19 measures? If so join the drop-in session on Wednesday between 17h00 and 19h00. Ambassador Martin Shearman will open the session with a short video, and the Embassy Team will then answer as many of your questions as possible or signpost you to reliable sources of information. More details on the Embassy facebook page.
Today the European Commission is organising a global coronavirus fundraiser in Brussels. President Ursula von der Leyen hopes to raise EUR 7.5 billion.
An agreement has been reached on parental "corona" leave with retroactive effect. The parental "corona" leave allowance will be increased by 25% compared to the conventional parental leave, said Minister of Employment Nathalie Muylle.
A new provision by Minister of Health, Maggie De Block will temporarily allow private nursing homes to call on volunteers to compensate the low staff attendance rate.
Belgium and the Netherlands have concluded an agreement to prevent frontier workers from being adversely affected by the corona crisis, Finance Minister Alexander De Croo reports.
All triage centres that will conduct testing from Monday 4 May have been supplied with testing equipment, says federal minister Philippe De Backer.
The expert group in charge of the exit strategy (GEES) is working on a plan for a possible new lockdown, Professor Erika Vlieghe, in charge of the group of experts, said. But she hopes it won't come to that.
Virologist Marc Van Ranst is "fairly relaxed" about the first phase of the exit strategy from today, but not about the second phase commencing on 11 May. Van Ranst fears that Belgians will flock to the newly opened shops and that this will lead to irresponsible situations.
Surgical masks are available in supermarkets from Tuesday. VAT on hand gels and mouth masks will drop from 21 to 6%.
30% of companies active in the arts and entertainment sector consider the risk of bankruptcy "probable" or "very probable".
The Federation of Belgian Entrepreneurs thinks "only 80% of employees will be back at work at the end of May".
Wallonia TEC public transport confirms wearing a mask at the bus stop and on the bus is mandatory, and only one passenger per seat will be allowed. STIB's network will run at 80% of their usual frequency while SNCB and De Lijn will resume their normal timetable from today.
SNCB are also reminding travellers to maintain a social distance, to wear a mask and on stairs and escalators to keep their right and not to overtake.
Wearing a mask or scarf will be mandatory at Zaventem airport from Monday 4 May, said federal government spokesperson Philippe Touwaide. This announcement supersedes previous information from airport spokespersons. Passengers on Eurostar & Thalys trains must also wear masks.
France won’t make quarantine mandatory for travellers from most countries in Europe. If you travel to France from Belgium, the rest of the European Union, the United Kingdom or the Schengen countries, you may enter the country from 11 May if you do not show any symptoms of corona.
The tracking and tracing strategy. A royal decree stipulates that the tracing data will be stored in a secure database of the Sciensano health institute. The tracing strategy adopted by the three regions is that of the call centre, which will enter into test phase today. There are doubts about its implementation on 11 May, the provisional date for reopening of retail businesses, as the screening capacities must greatly increase to at least 25 000 tests per day. Last week, testing capabilities managed to exceed 20 000 daily tests.
Dogs are being trained to detect COVID-19, these are dogs already trained for the detection of other diseases.
Etterbeek commune has required the wearing of masks on shopping streets and near schools such as on the rue des Tongres (Mérode) or the chaussée de Wavre (La Chasse).
On Friday, 1 May, the “Maison Antoine” chip shop opened for the first time since the start of confinement and Foodmet, the covered market in Anderlecht, has also reopened.
Molenbeek commune has implemented a temporary mobility plan with speed limits of 20km per hour across its region.
The Brussels courts will partially resume their activities in May under a modified and progressive regime, courtrooms have been rearranged to allow a partial return.
Federal Government COVID-19 information
The Bulletin's COVID-19 webpage (updated daily)