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New coronavirus restrictions target Belgian nightlife, cafes and restaurants
Belgium has announced new restrictions on nightlife, sports, cafes and restaurants in an attempt to slow down the fourth wave of coronavirus.
Nightclubs, which only reopened in October after 18 months shut, have been ordered to close again from tomorrow (Saturday) until 15 December.
Also from tomorrow, cafes and restaurants must close between 23.00 and 5.00 and reintroduce the limit of a maximum six people per table (over the age of 12). Christmas markets can go ahead, but must also be closed by 23.00.
From Monday, indoor events can only go ahead if participants are sitting down. Sporting activities, both amateur and professional, can go ahead but without spectators.
As far as social contacts are concerned, private get-togethers at home are still allowed, but visitors are strongly encouraged to take a rapid coronavirus test before attending.
Schools and youth activities can continue to operate. However, teachers should not congregate in the staffroom unless there is a CO2 alarm in the room. Mixing of classes should be avoided. This means that Saint-Nicholas will not be able to visit school pupils this year. Extra-curricular activities and school trips with an overnight stay are cancelled.
When two infections are reported within the same class, all pupils and staff who have been in contact with the class should be tested. If three infections are reported, the entire class will be required to quarantine.
The rules on remote working have been slightly strengthened. Working from home is compulsory for at least four days per week. It had initially been proposed that this would drop to three days per week next month, but this relaxation has now been scrapped and the four-day rule will remain in place until Christmas.
The consultative committee met on Friday morning - little more than a week after their last meeting - as infection numbers and hospital occupancy continue to rise.
Belgium will accelerate the rollout of the third dose of the coronavirus vaccine - currently available to over-65s and people with underlying health conditions - with the goal that as many people as possible are vaccinated before Christmas
The consultative committee is due to meet again on 15 December, when the current measures will be reassessed.