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Brussels British Community Association

Deconfinement Phase 1b is go!

6 May 2020 11:10 PM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

Phase 1B deconfinement will start from 11 May with widening of social contacts and opening of some businesses under certain conditions.

This Wednesday, 6 May, the National Security Council (NSC) met to validate, complete and specify the new phase of the deconfinement strategy, namely phase 1b which will begin on 11 May. Experts have given the green light to launch this new phase in light of several favourable criteria including the number of hospitalizations per day, the average downward trend of hospitalizations, the number of beds occupied in intensive care units, and the growth of testing and tracing. These criteria will continue to play a role in the gradual easing of confinement in Belgium.

10/ 11 May

In order to respond to the distress and the difficulties caused by social distancing, the NSC first decided to allow a further widening of social contacts from this Sunday (10 May).

Currently, it is possible to see two people, always the same people, outside, for a walk or to play sports together. This possibility remains, but from 10 May each household will also be able to accommodate in their home up to a maximum of four people; always the same persons. To limit the number of contacts that could spread the virus, the invited people must agree to enter only one household. The objective is to limit as far as possible the risk of contact, while attempting to guarantee the greatest possible reciprocity.

The following conditions will apply:

  • Social distancing must, of course, be respected with the guests.
  • If the household has a garden or a terrace, it is preferable to organize the visit outdoors.
  • Obviously no visit can be authorized if a family member or the guest is sick.
  • Particular attention should be paid to the elderly or the frail.

This system also makes it easier to trace the contacts that have taken place between people if one of them later tests positive for COVID-19.

The NSC will continue to assess the possibilities of expanding these contacts as the different phases progress.

On 11 May, other businesses will be able to reopen. This reopening must, as for everything else, be done in strict compliance with the following rules:

  • As is the case in shops that are already open only 1 customer will be authorized per 10m² for a maximum of 30 minutes. For smaller businesses an exception will be provided.
  • It is strongly recommended that each customer wears protection covering the nose and mouth in shops. In any case, social distancing must be respected.
  • Employers will be responsible for the health and safety of their employees, and will have to do everything to ensure safe working conditions.

To avoid crowds, everyone will have to do their shopping alone. An exception will be made for children under the age of 18, who may be accompanied by a parent, and people in need of help. It is also recommended to go to shops located in a city or town near your home or place of work. Excursions and tourist activities are still prohibited. Gatherings also remain prohibited. Local authorities will ensure the application of social distancing rules in public spaces and will take the necessary measures to enforce them. Priority should be given to people over 65, people with reduced mobility and caregivers.

The use of public transport should only be made if you have no alternative. The goal is to give access to the people who need it most.

The contact trades, apart from medical and paramedical care, will unfortunately remain closed for the time being.

The markets cannot resume at this stage either. Only single street vendors (food and non-food) may be authorized, by local authorities, and at their usual locations. As everywhere else, social distancing must be respected.

Unfortunately, cafes, bars, restaurants and festive, recreational, cultural and tourist venues will remain closed at this stage as well.

The next stage – 18 May

The next stage is currently scheduled for 18 May. The Communities and the world of education are already working together to ensure a gradual resumption of lessons in primary and secondary schools.

Until then, we will determine with the expert group the feasibility and conditions for:

  • The recovery of the markets
  • The reopening of museums, libraries, zoos, etc
  • The reopening of professions with physical contact such as hairdressers
  • The increase in the number of people able to attend wedding ceremonies and funerals
  • The resumption of outdoor sports training. The resumption of sporting and cultural events will also be analysed by the experts on the basis of work tabled by competent ministers to present a more precise calendar through the different phases
  • The question of day trips, visits to second homes etc will be raised during the preparation of phase 3 (estimated date: 8 June).

The full statement from the NSC (in French) can be found here.

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