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Hairdressers and animal parks can reopen next Saturday

22:15 05/02/2021

Hairdressers in Belgium have been allowed to reopen on 13 February - with other contact professions such as beauty salons and tattoo parlours following on 1 March.

The coronavirus consultative committee, which met on Friday afternoon, also approved the reopening of holiday villages and campsites from next Monday (8 February) and animal parks from 13 February.

Hair salons will have to follow a strict safety protocol, including a maximum of one customer per 10m² and a 10-minute gap between each appointment to disinfect and ventilate the space.

Appointments are compulsory - and customers must wait outside until they are called. Home visits remain banned.

"We know virologists say you have to be careful with this, but we believe it can be done under strict conditions," said federal health minister Frank Vandenbroucke said. "There is always a risk when you allow more contact. This is why everything must be done very carefully, step by step."

The reopening of animal parks is limited to their outdoor areas. While holiday parks and campsites can reopen, any communal facilities including bars must stay closed.

From 13 February, estate agents are allowed again to show potential buyers and tenants around properties.

There will also be a change to the rules on returning to Belgium from a red zone. The compulsory coronavirus test now applies to children aged six and over - until now it was 12. Fines for failing to take the test will begin to be enforced from 1 April.

Bars, restaurants and the culture sector will have to wait longer for news of any potential reopening. The next consultative committee meeting is scheduled for 26 February.

Before then, the GEMS expert advisory panel has been asked to draw up a possible roadmap with suggested dates for the reopening of other sectors, depending on how Belgium's coronavirus figures evolve.

"I don't want to give people false hope," Vandenbroucke added. "It's even worse than uncertainty."

All of the coronavirus restrictions announced last October - such as the one-person indoor contact rule and the requirement to shop alone - will remain in place until at least 1 April.

Written by The Bulletin