Today, Thursday 23 July, the Belgian National Security Council has agreed to postpone Phase 5 of COVID-19 deconfinement due to a deterioration in the general trends with respect to the virus in Belgium.
"From the start, we have been told that the phases would correlate with the figures for the pandemic," warned Sophie Wilmès at a press conference following the Council meeting. She also outlined some additional measures that will be put in place across the country.
There will be no increase in the maximum number of people allowed for receptions and fairs and exhibitions may not always allowed.
The resumption of ‘normal’ activities is still scheduled for September 1, but will be subject to a very strict health protocol and the compulsory wearing of face masks.
Face masks – new rules
From this Saturday, July 25, the wearing of face masks will be mandatory in all markets, flea markets, fairgrounds, in shopping streets and any place with large amounts of people, whether a private or public domain.
Each commune will define precisely the areas where facemask will be mandatory.
Wearing a facemask will also be compulsory in public buildings and in catering establishments, except when diners are seated at the table.
In all other cases, wearing a mask is always strongly recommended, especially when there are people and when it is difficult to respect safe distancing.
The closing time for night shops will now be 22h00 to avoid gatherings in public areas.
Reconfinement at the local level will now be the responsibility of mayors at commune level. They can intervene within the framework of the decisions of the National Security Council, but they have the flexibility to act locally if there is a deterioration in the health situation in their commune.
In some cases, local containment may be possible. The mayors will have to contact the district governors and the regional authorities so that the measures are applied in a consistent manner.
Where did you eat?
Everyone visiting a bar or restaurant must complete a form indicating their email address or telephone number, which will be used to contact them in the event of potential contamination.
“After 15 days, without contamination, this information will be destroyed. And it will not be used for purposes other than those related to the coronavirus," stated the Prime Minister.
Each person’s social bubble remains at 15 people per week – not per day. "If everyone strictly respects the rule, we should not touch this bubble to which we hold so much," said Sophie Wilmès. However, to maintain this situation "will depend on the behaviour of each and every one of us."
The reason for these new measures stems from a 89% increase in COVID19 cases compared to last week. The number of Covid-19 infections has been accelerating for several days. Between 12 July and 18 July 18, there were an average of 184.3 new cases detected per day. Hospital admissions are also on an upward trend.
You can watch the 23 July press conference below or read the press release (in French) here.