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Coronavirus in Belgium: What changes on 1 July

06:10 30/06/2020

Belgium enters the next phase in the easing of its coronavirus restrictions this Wednesday.

From this date, "social bubbles" will be extended from 10 to 15 people per week. This means that everyone can socialise with up to 15 different people in one week. These do not always have to be the same 15 people.

This also means that household gatherings must be limited to 15 people maximum, up from 10. "This might not seem a big change, but we are doing everything we can," prime minister Sophie Wilmès said.

Cultural activities with an audience can be organised again, with a maximum of 200 people indoors, or 400 outdoors. This limit could be increased in August to 400 indoors and 800 outdoors, depending on official advice.

An online tool will be launched for events organisers, allowing them to check the rules that they must follow.

Demonstrations will be allowed to take place from 1 July, with the same maximum participant limit as outdoor cultural events - 400 in July, possibly 800 in August. Protests must remain in one place: no processions are allowed.

Swimming pools, wellness centres, amusement parks, casinos, theatres and cinemas will be allowed to reopen from 1 July. Conference centres and party venues may also resume their activities, with a maximum limit of 50 people.

Shopping with friends, from your social bubble, will be allowed from 1 July. The rule on going shopping alone is therefore removed, as is the 30-minute-per-store limit. The 50-stall limit on markets is also being removed.

Nightclubs remain closed and mass gatherings remain banned. The 1.00 closing time for bars and restaurants is unchanged.

In terms of the wearing of facemasks, nothing changes. They are required in public transport and recommended in shops and all other places and situations where social distancing cannot be respected.

"Things will be a bit different this summer," Wilmès said. "Even if the figures remain good, and the situation is getting back to normal, the virus is still with us.

"But we should make the most of the summer and enjoy our new freedoms, after a difficult period."

Written by The Bulletin