Belgium toughens lockdown measures to combat new Covid-19 surge
Lockdown measures will get even tighter in Belgium as the government takes necessary action to curb the rising number of Sars-CoV-2 infections and hospitalisations in the country.
The announcement came from Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, following a meeting this morning with the consultative committee handling the health crisis in the country.
Based on the recent decision, new measures will take effect starting 10pm this Friday, the 26th of March:
- All schools will be closed from next Monday, from preschool to secondary level. If the situation improves, the government hopes to reopen schools by April 19.
- Youth camps and other extracurricular activities are still allowed but only during Easter holidays. Participation will be limited to small groups of up to 10 young people. Overnight activities are not allowed.
- Non-essential stores will remain open, but customers will have to make an appointment before going there.
- Contact professions, such as beauty parlors, nail salons, massage centres, will have to close again.
- Social bubbles will have to be reduced from ten to four people.
- Non-essential travel is still prohibited. Border controls will be tightened for the Easter holidays.
- Curfew remains the same. (10pm to 6am for Brussels and Flanders, 12 midnight to 5am in Wallonia.)
- Working from home remains compulsory. Monitoring will be intensified, and penalties will be more severe.
Latest coronavirus situation in Belgium
According to the Sciensano Public Health Institute, hospital confinements reached an average of 215.3 per day from March 17 to 23, indicating an increase of 28 percent from the last situation report. More than 600 of the 2,402 people currently confined are in the intensive care unit.
From March 14 to 20, Sciensano also recorded an average of 4,158 new coronavirus infections per day or 40 percent more than the previous report. Within the same period, an average of 25.3 people died per day, which is 3.5% higher than before.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Belgium has counted 842,775 infections and 22,763 deaths. On average, 58,300 tests are carried out every day, yielding a positivity rate of 7.6%. At present, the virus reproduces at a rate of 1.17. A reproduction rate greater than one indicates that contagion has a tendency to accelerate.
As of today, more than one million people in Belgium have received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. They account for less than 10 percent of the country’s 11.5 million inhabitants. About four percent of the population is now fully vaccinated.