Belgium to introduce curfew to curb COVID-19 spread

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo announced stricter measures, including a nation-wide curfew, to limit the spread of COVID-19 at the end of a meeting of the Consultation Committee.

According to De Croo, a curfew from midnight to 5 a.m. will be imposed throughout the country starting Monday, Xinhua news agency reported on Friday.

Cafes and restaurants will be closed for a month, with an assessment in a fortnight time to see if the measure should remain in place, said the prime minister, who reassured that a fair and financial support plan will accompany the measures.

Meanwhile, the social contact bubble has been reduced to one person from the previous three people outside the family. Tele-working has become compulsory when possible.

The sale of alcohol will be forbidden from 8 p.m. and take-away foods can be collected before 10 p.m., according to the measures.

The markets remain open but with respect to the rules of social distancing of 1.5 meters, mask-wearing and hand hygiene. However, Christmas markets and flea markets are cancelled.

“We are in phase 4 of the COVID-19 barometer, the figures are significantly higher today than those we saw in March and April, and on all indicators (new infections, hospitalizations, deaths). And often, these figures continue to increase or even double,” explained the prime minister.

Belgium has seen a fast resurgence of COVID-19 infections recently with an average of 5,976 new cases diagnosed every day during the seven-day period from October 6 to 12, data from the public health institute Sciensano showed on Friday. “This is a 96 per cent increase compared to the previous week,” said Sciensano in a report.

To date, Belgium has recorded 191,959 cases of COVID-19 infections and 10,327 deaths since the beginning of the epidemic.

As the world is struggling to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, countries including France, Italy, China, Russia, Britain and the United States are racing to find a vaccine.