Belgium Tightens Covid-19 Restrictions To Avoid Another Lockdown Amid Rising Cases

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                Le Premier ministre belge a freiné lundi le plan de sortie du coronavirus du pays, dévoilant un ensemble de mesures de distanciation sociale drastiques visant à éviter un nouveau verrouillage général au milieu d'une flambée d'infections au COVID-19.
            

S'exprimant après une réunion urgente du Conseil de sécurité nationale, le Premier ministre Sophie Wilmes a déclaré qu'à partir de mercredi prochain, les contacts à l'extérieur de chaque foyer seront limités aux cinq mêmes personnes au cours des quatre prochaines semaines, comme la soi-disant «bulle sociale» s'applique désormais à une maison et ses occupants et non à des particuliers. Les résidents belges sont actuellement autorisés à rencontrer 15 personnes différentes par semaine. Les mesures ne s'appliquent pas aux enfants de moins de 12 ans.

“Our goal is clear – to avoid another full lockdown,” Wilmes said.

Wilmes said the new measures – which also include lowering crowd limits at public events to 100 people indoors and 200 people outdoors – might be enough to avoid further restrictions and ensure that children can return to school en masse in September, after summer vacation.

Wilmes urged people to return to working remotely when possible, “one of the keys to successful deconfinement.” She added that shoppers should now do grocery shopping on their own and limit their time in-store to 30 minutes. Additionally, family or friend reunions – including weddings – will be limited to a maximum of 10 people.

“However, the most important approach is the one-on-one approach,” Wilmes said. “If we can’t contain the coronavirus, it will be a collective failure.”

After a sharp drop in infections, Belgium has seen an increase in confirmed cases in the past three weeks. According to figures released on Monday, the number increased by 71% from July 17 to 23 compared to the previous 7 days, with 47% of cases detected in the province of Antwerp.

The number of cases has also increased sharply in the rest of the county, with an average of 279 new cases daily and a 30% increase in the number of people admitted to hospital.

Belgian authorities fight to contain the Antwerp epidemic

Wilmes called on local authorities to take strong additional measures if the health situation deteriorates in their towns.

“The urgency of the situation in Antwerp demands and demands that strong measures be taken quickly,” she said.

Meanwhile, the mayor of Brussels Philippe Close announced the cancellation of the 140th edition of the city’s annual summer funfair, saying it was impossible for the popular event to take place due to the latest directives in health matters.

Belgium, a country of 11.5 million inhabitants, has been particularly affected by the virus, with more than 66,000 cases and 9,821 deaths. The government had already tightened restrictions last week, making the use of face masks mandatory in crowded outdoor spaces while forcing bar and restaurant owners to register customer details.

(AP)

            

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