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Belgium postpones easing of coronavirus measures
Belgium's plan to relax coronavirus restrictions outdoors on 1 April has been put on hold - with new measures announced to slow down the country's rising infection numbers.
The consultative committee, bringing together representatives from the federal and regional governments and language communities, met on Friday - a week earlier than planned - to respond to the worsening coronavirus situation in the country.
Schools remain open, but pupils currently following a mix of in-person and distance learning will now not resume 100% face-to-face tuition until after the Easter holidays, on 19 April.
"Schools are a main source of infection," said Belgian prime minister Alexander De Croo, who has asked the education ministers of each of Belgium's language communities to suggest further measures to limit the virus's spread in schools before Monday.
"We know what we need to do to break this chain: limit our social contacts as much as possible. If you want to meet someone, meet them outdoors."
Outdoor cultural activities, which were due to resume on 1 April with a maximum audience of 50, will have to be postponed until a later date. The reopening of amusement parks on 1 April has also been put on hold.
"We cannot allow these relaxations at this stage," said De Croo. Outdoor children's activities will still be allowed during the Easter holidays, in groups of up to 10. The reopening of cafes is still pencilled in for 1 May.
From 3 April, capacity on SNCB trains to the coast will be limited. People aged 12 and over will only be allowed to occupy the window seats, to ensure passengers are more spread out.
The consultative committee will meet again next week.