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Belgium bans non-essential travel until 1 March
Belgium has banned non-essential foreign travel - to and from the country - until 1 March, in an attempt to stop the spread of new, more contagious, strains of coronavirus.
The measure enters force on Wednesday (27 January). But prime minister Alexander De Croo said: "We are not going to build a wall around Belgium."
Essential travel includes trips for medical or family reasons - visiting a spouse abroad, or a non-married partner with whom you are in "a stable and lasting relationship", attending a wedding or funeral, or assisting an elderly, minor, disabled or vulnerable person. Student exchanges and cross-border removals can go ahead.
Travellers should bring a written note with them, explaining the reason for their journey.
"At Christmas, the checks were not sufficient," health minister Frank Vandenbroucke said. "Travel abroad was strongly discouraged. Even when we say that travel abroad is strongly discouraged, unfortunately a minority of people do not care.
"It was due to ski holidays that the virus spread everywhere a year ago. The great danger now is that the people who go on holiday will come back with all kinds of variants of the virus, which are perhaps more dangerous and contagious."
Anyone who tests positive for coronavirus, or who has been in contact with an infected person, should stay at home for 10 days. "The new variants are more contagious, and for longer," Vandenbroucke said.
A decision on whether to reopen hairdressers - and other businesses requiring close contact such as beauty salons and tattoo parlours - has been postponed until 5 February, when Belgium's coronavirus committee next meets.
De Croo said: "It is not possible for these activities to start up again yet. The figures clearly do not allow it."
If the coronavirus situation in Belgium improves by then, hair salons could be allowed to reopen on 13 February, with a maximum one customer per 10m².
Hairdressers would be required to take a weekly coronavirus test, wear an FFP2 surgical mask and leave a 10-minute gap between appointments to disinfect equipment and surfaces. Home visits would remain prohibited.
Customers arriving early for their hair appointment would have to wait outside - no waiting rooms, drinks or magazines. They would have to wear a surgical mask and leave their contact details, for the purposes of contact tracing.