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Schools, cultural institutions, beauty salons and some sport restart their activities today
According to a decision made by the National Security Council on Wednesday, Belgium enters a new phase of exiting lockdown today. Some important restrictions are being lifted as of Monday 18 May, while others will remain valid until 8 June when Phase 3 is set to begin.
What changes on 18 May in Belgium?
The main change in Belgium as of today is that a large number of pupils in primary and secondary schools will be allowed to return to school, under strict rules. Kindergartens, however, remain closed, while Higher education institutions have already prepared for the end of the academic year alongside community authorities.
Museums, libraries and cultural establishments like historic residences and monuments, castles and citadels can reopen, too, provided that they sell tickets remotely (over the phone or online) and take measures to prevent crowding. Same goes for zoos and natural parks and similar venues.
Furthermore, contact-based professions (like hairdressers, beauty stylists, masseurs) are also allowed to resume work today provided they wear facial protection. Also, in beauty salons and similar spaces, it is needed to respect a safe distance between customers and to operate with appointment only.
The reopening of the markets is also possible, under certain regulations and with the approval of the local authorities. For example, no more than 50 stalls can operate and there must be a traffic plan for a given location. Naturally, facial protection is compulsory for traders and staff and highly recommended for customers.
Finally, rules on the practising of sports and recreation have also been relaxed. Outside sports lessons and sports clubs have been allowed to resume their operations as long as the groups taking part are no larger than 20 people, who are all social distancing measures. Marriages and funerals can also take place (without reception) with up to 30 guests. Unfortunately, cafes and restaurants remain closed at this stage of the de-confinement.
What next for Belgium?
Phase two is one of several on the path towards normal life in Belgium. Should everything go as planned, Phase 3 will start on 8 June. Thus, the gradual resumption of tourist activities and the reopening of restaurants, terraces and cafes have not been given the green light as of yet. However, the Belgian government was clear that no cultural, sports, tourist or recreational event can take place before the end of June.
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