The platform for Belgium's international community

Search form

menu menu
  • Daily & Weekly newsletters
  • Buy & download The Bulletin
  • Comment on our articles

Long weekend in Belgium: Here's what you can (and cannot) do over the coming days

12:55 21/05/2020

The sun is out and for many of us it is a four-day weekend. However, many of Belgium's coronavirus restrictions are still in place.

"Police will carry out extra alcohol, drug and speed checks this weekend," a federal police spokesman said. "These checks are also the opportunity to check if a journey is justified and if the number of people is respected."

Here's a quick recap of what is and isn't allowed.

✓ Support your local market traders

Many open-air markets are back up and running, with special measures to ensure safe distancing, such as one-way paths. The regulations set out by the federal government say that a maximum of 50 stalls can take part in each market. Facemasks are compulsory for stall-holders and recommended for customers.

✓ Visit a museum or historic site

Check online to see if your favourite museum has reopened - and book your tickets in advance. Some museums are operating with different opening hours, and there are limits on the number of people allowed at any given time.

✓ See the animals at the zoo

Animal parks reopened on 18 May but, again, check before you travel. Some are limiting access to season ticket holders. All of them require prior booking. Each attraction's restaurants and play areas remain off limits. It is a good idea to keep your ticket until you're back home - it could be necessary proof if police ask you to justify making a long trip.

✓ Get a haircut

Hairdressers, beauty salons and tattoo parlours are open again, by appointment only. Wearing a mask is compulsory.

✓ Enjoy a walk in the great outdoors

Visits to parks, gardens and nature reserves are permitted, but you must not stop to sunbathe or picnic.

✓ Exercise

Jog, cycle, play tennis, golf or pétanque, go hiking, fishing, rowing, canoeing or for a motorbike ride with up to two other people, or among family members living under the same roof. Participants must keep at least 1.5 metres apart. "Limited travel" to and from a sports location is permitted. Outdoor sports training sessions in teams are also allowed, with a maximum of 20 people.

✓ Get married

And invite up to 30 guests to the ceremony, but you cannot organise a reception or catering afterwards.

✓ Go shopping

Not a leisurely shopping day out with friends, but you can go to the shops alone. Each store is limiting access to one customer per 10m² and a maximum 30 minutes shopping time. Wearing a mask in stores is strongly recommended and social distancing must be respected.

✓ Visit your second home

Belgium has lifted its ban on visits to a second home, just in time for the long Ascension holiday weekend. But the governor of West Flanders has warned that the Belgian coast is "not ready" to deal with a large influx of people and has urged second home owners to stay away for now.

And here are some things we will have to wait a bit longer for...

☹ Enjoy a cool beer on a cafe terrace

Restuarants, bars and cafes remain closed until at least 8 June - although many are still offering takeaway.

☹ Attend a get-together, a picnic with friends in the park, a big birthday party

The rules on social contacts remain unchanged: you can invite a maximum of four people to your home, always the same four people, provided no one is showing symptoms. A safe distance should be maintained. If you have a garden or terrace, it is recommended to meet there instead of indoors.

☹ Enjoy a daytrip at the beach

The Belgian coast, the Ardennes and other tourist destinations remain off-limits, except for second home owners. Recreational days out could be allowed to resume from 8 June. We'll know more after the national security council meets again, possibly next Wednesday.

Written by The Bulletin