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Belgium alleviates COVID-19 restrictions from 19 April

Belgium alleviates COVID-19 restrictions from 19 April

The changes concern non-essential travel, education and gatherings

On 14 April, Belgium announced the alleviation of some restrictions, related to the containment of the coronavirus pandemic. The lifting of restrictions will happen gradually over the next couple of days.

Despites the continuous pressure on the healthcare system of Belgium, the Consultative committee (the entity responsible for the management of the health crisis) observes positive tendencies in key indicators. The average daily contamination rate is declining, the number of hospitalisations is decreasing, and the reproduction number is now below 1: all of which justifies the removal of some of the restrictions, believe the authorities.

What changes in Belgium from 19 April 2021 with regards to COVID-19?

Thus, from 19 April with the end of the Easter holidays schools will reopen in Belgium. Nurseries, primary schools, special secondary education, first level of secondary education and alternating training will be 100% face-to-face, while the second and third level of secondary education will have to be present only half the time. Students in higher education institutions will have to visit the campus once a week.

Also, from Monday, the ban on non-essential travel within the EU is lifted, albeit it is still recommended to avoid it. There will be strict regime for quarantine and testing upon arrival. Travel restrictions for visits outside of the EU remain in force.

Changes concern shopping and contact professions, such as beauty salons, which are allowed to resume operations from 26 April. From that date, stores will be able to welcome walk-in customers again. Two members of the same household can go shopping together. From this date, outside gatherings of up to 10 people will be reallowed, too.

The next set of changes depends on the vaccination progress of the elderly (over 65 years old) which is expected to be almost fully completed by 8 May. At this point, an open-air plan should enter into force, reallowing for outdoor group activities, such as sports, events, cultural activities, markets, etc to take place. Restaurants and cafés could welcome clients with outdoor seating, too.

By mid-June, the Belgian authorities believe, the most vulnerable groups should have become immune to the coronavirus, which is an important stage in the fight against the pandemic. Should the numbers prove this to be the case, an indoors plan could be activated, allowing for group activities to take place in closed spaces.

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