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Small private gatherings allowed from Sunday 10 May

14:45 06/05/2020

Belgium has allowed small private gatherings with friends and family, at home, from Sunday 10 May - in time for Mother's Day.

Prime minister Sophie Wilmès said the feeling of isolation among some residents had "become unbearable" and added: "We must act."

You can invite up to four people outside your immediate family, 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.

"We don't want the police to have to come and check that everything is order," Wilmès said. "This is not about police controls, but about everyone's collective sense of responsibility."

She added: "I'm convinced that the Belgian population is intelligent and responsible. We must remain very careful and make sure that the rules are respected."

In other news, shops have been allowed to reopen from Monday 11 May, with a maximum of 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. You should go shopping alone. Children under 18 can be accompanied by one parent.

If there are too many people in store, you should come back later. Priority will be given to people over 60, with reduced mobility and healthcare personnel.

The announcements came after a four-hour meeting of Belgium's national security council on Wednesday morning.

The council also announced that all professional and amateur sport events would be cancelled until at least the end of July.

A decision on allowing visits to second homes and daytrips elsewhere in Belgium has been delayed. It was initially part of the "phase 2" easing of coronavirus measures, provisionally set for 18 May.

It has now been postponed until "phase 3", meaning it will not be allowed until 8 June at the earliest, at the same time as the security council discusses the possible reopening of restaurants.

Written by The Bulletin