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Belgium announces further coronavirus restrictions for culture and sport
Belgium has announced further restrictions on cultural, leisure and sporting events in a bid to limit the spread of coronavirus.
The measures apply from today for four weeks, until 19 November.
A consultative committee bringing together representatives from the federal and regional governments met on Thursday evening.
Among the measures announced:
- All professional sports matches must be played without spectators. This applies to all professional sport, both indoor and outdoor
- All official amateur sport matches are cancelled, both indoor and outdoor. Training sessions can continue. This measure applies to adult activities, not to the under-18s. They can continue to play under current regulations: Under 12s have no limitations, under 18s must avoid contact sports
- Universities must limit the number of students in lecture halls to 20% of capacity, except for first-year students where 50% is allowed
- Cultural venues, such as cinemas, theatres and concert halls, are limited to 200 people. Cinemas must put two seats between individuals or bubbles instead of the previous one. Some venues had previously been granted exemptions, allowing a bigger audience; these exemptions are now cancelled
- Youth camps for over-12s can only organise outdoor activities. No youth camps can organise overnight stays
- All theme parks must close. Zoos and animal parks can stay open
Schools will remain open under current guidelines, and teleworking remains the norm. Bars and restaurants remain closed until 19 November.
Brussels and Wallonia currently have the highest number of infections per capita in Europe, with more than 10,000 people a day testing positive. Yesterday nearly 500 people were admitted to hospital across Belgium.
There are currently 3,649 people in hospital with complications due to the virus, with 573 in intensive care. The number of people admitted to hospital over the last seven days is close to double the number the week before.
“We should never have allowed ourselves to get into this situation again,” KU Leuven virologist Marc Van Ranst told VRT. “Many other countries have been able to avoid this, but we didn’t succeed in that. That’s why these very frustrating measures now have to be taken.”
He said that he “hoped” that these measures would be enough to prevent another lockdown. “These measures could turn the tide.”
The latest coronavirus figures and measures can be found on the federal government’s dedicated website, in four languages.