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Coronavirus in Belgium: The latest developments
What's the latest?
Wearing a mask will be compulsory in all Belgian shops, cinemas, museums and libraries from this Saturday, 11 July, it has been announced. Theatres, concert halls, conference venues and places of worship are also included in the new rules, which apply to anyone aged 12 and over. More details here...
Explaining the latest measure, prime minister Sophie Wilmès said: "We see that the numbers are stagnating at the moment, but what mattered most to us was to have a clear and unanimous opinion from the experts. We always base our decisions on expert opinions. We hope one day to have neither to restrict our freedoms, nor to have to wear a mask: that is the medium-term objective. If the epidemic were to resume, we could take additional measures, whether in terms of wearing a mask, closing things, restricting freedoms. It's not fun but it may be a day required."
Spain and Portgual are back on the "green" list for summer holidays, upgraded from orange, meaning Belgians can freely travel there without restrictions, with the exception of Llieda and A Mariña in Spain, and Lisbon in Portugal, which are red zones and travel there is forbidden. Travel to red zones from Belgium is forbidden. Travellers who ignore the guidance and travel to a red zone could find their travel insurance cancelled. If you return to Belgium from a red zone, you will be required to take two coronavirus tests - on arrival and nine days later - and self-isolate for 14 days. Although health prevention is a regional competence in Belgium, the rules will apply nationide, regardless of place of residence or the airport of arrival.
Police in Knokke-Heist made five administrative arrests on Thursday night, after hundreds of people gathered on the streets after the bars closed. The local police chief is in favour of extending the closing time from 1.00 to 3.00 in the morning to better spread out the flow of people and avoid masses of people leaving bars at the same time.
The City of Brussels has approved a €35 million cash advance to help three of the city's hospitals, which are facing cashflow problems because revenue-generating non-emergency procedures were cancelled during the shutdown.
The coronavirus crisis might not bring about a major change in the way we get around cities, according to an Ivox poll of 2,000 people in June commissioned by the federal mobility ministry. Nine out of 10 respondents said they did not want to change their main mode of transport for commuting.
Belgium's national security council will meet again next Wednesday (15 July), it was confirmed this week. Wednesday's meeting will, among other topics, discuss the current restrictions on trade fairs, after the industry sector successfully complained to the Council of State, forcing the Belgian state to make a decision no later than 15 July.
The Ancienne Belgique will reopen for one day only, this Saturday, with a concert by Tourist LeMC, exclusively reserved for 200 healthcare personnel. When the venue fully reopens in September, the front row of every concert until the end of the year will be reserved for frontline care staff. The autumn programme should be published in the coming weeks.
Finland will lift its travel restrictions for a range of countries, including Belgium, from next Monday (13 July). It means Finland will join the foreign ministry's green list of countries where travel is possible from Belgium without any conditions. Until now, travel to Finland had been limited to Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
King Philippe on Thursday visited Liège Airport, which has positioned itself as a European hub for the supply of protective equipment during the coronavirus pandemic. More than a billion masks have passed through the airport since the outbreak began, plus gloves, protective gowns, respirators and test kits destined for numerous European countries, and coming mostly from China. In addition, Liège is also a hub for the UN's World Food Programme, sending medical and humanitarian material to African nations.
Hunger will kill more people than coronavirus this year, Oxfam has warned. The NGO has identified 10 "extreme famine" hotspots around the world, where the situation is worsening because of the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic, which is "undermining an already faltering global food system, exposing millions more to starvation". It pointed to mass unemployment, disruptions to the food supply chain and declining funding for humanitarian aid.
Police broke up an illegal rave party in Sint-Pieters-Leeuw, just outside Brussels, on Friday night. It is reported that 150 partygoers were present, who fled as soon as they saw police arrive. A local police spokesperson said the organisers had been identified and faced prosecution. The generator supplying power to the sound system was seized.
A citizens' initiative called Coronadenktank is looking for nominations for "corona heroes" who have gone out of their way to help others during the crisis. Four of them will be invited to a special event with King Philippe at the royal palace in September. Nominate someone before 18 July at www.pleindespoir.be
Latest trends - Friday 10 July
Over the past seven days
- Average daily infections: 84 (+1%/week)
- Total infections: 62,357
- Average daily deaths: 3.1 (-24%)
- Total deaths: 9,781
- Average daily hospital admissions: 10 (-23%)
- In hospital: 160 (-14%)
- In intensive care: 36 (+3%)