Belgium to ease COVID-19 restrictions

Belgium will end on April 19 its ban on non-essential travel within the European Union (EU). As for travel outside the bloc, the European rules remain in force, according to the measures taken Wednesday by its Consultation Committee.

“However, there will be a very strict monitoring of the testing and quarantine, based on a new cooperation agreement with EU member states,” said Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, adding that the travel advisory for red zones remains negative.

The consultation committee, which met on Wednesday, has taken measures to relax the COVID-19 rules in line with a timetable that gives perspective to the contact professions, hotels, restaurants and catering sectors, cultural activities, as well as the social bubble.

From Monday, schools will reopen according to the same regime that was in force before the Easter holidays. In other words, kindergartens, primary schools, 1st and 2nd year of secondary schools will be reopened, whereas second and third graders of secondary schools will only be able to physically attend school half-time, with half-time distance learning still. For higher education, attendance will be one day per week.

As for the business sectors, as of April 26, non-medical contact trades and stores will be able to reopen, without the appointment system. Non-essential businesses will also reopen and up to two people from the same household will be able to shop.

The social bubble has been expanded again. Outdoor meetings will be increased to groups of 10 people, with social distancing and other measures intact.

On May 8, the restaurant sector will be able to resume outdoor activities. The end of the curfew has also been announced for May 8.

To date, Belgium has recorded a total of 930,603 cases of infection and 23,566 deaths since the beginning of the COVID-19 epidemic.

As the world is struggling to contain the pandemic, vaccination is underway in an increasing number of countries with already-authorized coronavirus vaccines.