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Coronavirus in Belgium: What changes on 8 June

16:11 03/06/2020

Meals out, gym sessions and daytrips are back on the agenda , as Belgium will begin "phase 3" in the easing of its coronavirus restrictions from Monday 8 June, prime minister Sophie Wilmès has confirmed.

The rules on social contacts outside your home have been eased. The previous rule of four people outside your household will be replaced by an individual limit of 10 outside contacts per week. Gatherings - at home, in a park or in a restaurant - will be allowed for up to 10 people, children included. 

For example, if you live with a partner, each of you can see 10 friends, and these 10 people can change from one week to the next. But, as a couple, you cannot invite all 20 of your week's friends out for a meal, picnic or birthday party.

Cafes, bars and restaurants can reopen from 8 June, with a 1.5 metre distance between tables and a maximum 10 people per group. Customers should be served at their table, and staff must wear a mask.

Disinfectant hand gel must be available at the entrance, and chairs and tables should be disinfected after each meal. Condiments can only be served in individual sachets and there should be no printed menus or decorations on the table. Buffets are banned.

All restaurants must close by 1.00 in the morning. The late closing time was agreed to make it easier for restaurants to organise two sittings for the evening meal. Night shops can also stay open until 1.00.

Casinos can reopen from 1 July. Party venues can accommodate up to 50 people, from 1 July. Nightclubs will remain closed until the end of August.

Cultural activites with an audience may resume from 1 July, with a maximum of 200 participants, including the reopening of cinemas and theatres. 

Sports activities without contact can return to normal from 8 June, outdoors and indoors. Changing rooms and showers must remain closed. Spectators will only be allowed at sports fixtures from 1 July. Gyms will be allowed to reopen, provided safety distances are maintained.

Contact sports such as football, basketball and judo are limited to contact-free training sessions until 1 July. Swimming pools, spas remain closed for now. These should reopen from 1 July.

Amusement parks and indoor play areas can reopen from 1 July.

Church services are allowed from 8 June, with a maximum 100 people. This will be extended to 200 people from 1 July. This also applies to weddings: 100 guests in June, or 200 guests from July. A reception with no more than 50 people can be organised from July onwards.

Excursions within Belgium - a day trip or longer - can go ahead from 8 June.

Cross-border travel within the EU/Schengen area will be allowed from 15 June, although other countries might choose to maintain their own border restrictions. A decision on travel outside the EU will be made at a later date.

Large gatherings remain banned until 31 August. Local fairs and festivals are prohibited until 1 August.

Flea markets are allowed to reopen from 8 June, with the same 50-stall limit as other markets.

Remote working remains recommended wherever possible. 

Wilmès said the next phase would be "a crucial next step" in the easing of Belgium's coronavirus restrictions, and other stages would follow in July and August.

"We started by banning everything," Wilmès said. "From 8 June we can work another way - we can say: everything is allowed, with some exceptions."

But she warned: "The virus is still with us. It will still claim victims, especially if we are not careful."

The basic safety rules remain in place: wash your hands, prioritise outdoor activities over indoors as much as possible, be extra careful around at-risk people, maintain social distancing.

Wilmès added: "We have always listened to the experts and we have moved forwards whenever the health situation has allowed.

"The indicators today are good. Today the situation is much better than we had imagined. These are the results of everyone's efforts."

Written by The Bulletin

Comments

Frank Lee

Casinos will reopen July 1st. If you have money that you plan to waste in a casino, may I suggest you do something useful with it instead? I'm not even asking you do to something selfless like giving to charity: just go and buy yourself something nice from your local store, treat yourself to a restaurant, or attend a cultural event. You'll help the economy and enjoy it at the same time. If you enjoy the thrill of gambling, then try sushi they'll serve you on the first day restaurants reopen. Who knows? They may or may not serve you what they had prepared just before the lockdown...

Jun 3, 2020 18:12