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Belgium: Schools, hairdressers, open-air markets reopen

Belgium enters 2nd phase of easing lockdown measures amid promising coronavirus statistics

Agnes Szucs  | 18.05.2020 - Update : 19.05.2020
Belgium: Schools, hairdressers, open-air markets reopen

Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest


Belgium entered on Monday into the second phase of reopening the economy after the coronavirus lockdown.

Children have returned to schools, hairdressers and beauticians have reopened their businesses, and museums, zoos, and libraries welcomed visitors for the first time since the federal government imposed strict restrictions on public life on March 18.

However, it is mandatory to follow social distancing rules to prevent a second wave of the pandemic.

The number of students is limited in the classrooms, so children can only go to school in the morning or afternoon shifts, and exclusively on certain days of the week.

Customers are obliged to book an appointment for services requiring close contact. Museum or zoo tickets have to be purchased in advance.

Stands in open-air markets are limited to 50.

Weddings and funerals may only be held in the presence of a maximum of 30 guests.

A week ago, people spent several hours queueing in front of shops that reopened after 50 days.

Restaurants and bars can only return to normal service on June 8, but the plan needs to be confirmed by the government. It is still unclear when the public can attend cultural events or sports clubs.

“The numbers are extremely good and give the green light,” federal COVID-19 spokesman Yves Van Laethem said on Monday.

In the past day, 28 people lost their lives to coronavirus, and 43 patients were taken to hospital. This is the lowest number since the outbreak.

Over the past week, the situation seems to have stabilized with hospitalizations and deaths under 100 people each.

Nationwide more than 55,559 people have been infected by the virus, and 9,080 victims lost their lives to COVID-19.

Since appearing in China last December, the virus has spread to at least 188 countries and regions, according to figures compiled by the US-based Johns Hopkins University's Coronavirus Resource Center.

More than 4.7 million cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed worldwide, with over 315,000 deaths, and nearly 1.7 million recovered.

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