Belgium strengthens COVID-19 measures as cases rise
New rules require wider public use of face mask, registration at restaurants due to rising infections
New measures will be introduced in Belgium from July 25 in a bid to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, Prime Minister Sophie Wilmes announced on Thursday.
The restrictions were decided by the National Security Council – a board composed of certain members of the federal government – after the number of coronavirus infections started to significantly rise again last week, especially among the people aged 20-30 years.
According to the new rules, people will be obliged to wear face mask inside shops, in busy shopping streets, open-air markets and other highly frequented areas as well as of Saturday.
Customers in cafes and restaurants will also have to put on the mask the moment they leave their tables, and they also need to register their email addresses with the waiters or managers in case they need to be contacted to retrace infections.
So far, masks were only mandatory in shops, public offices and on public transport.
People returning from holidays will have to notify Belgian authorities 48 hours before their arrival.
The National Security Council’s decision also delays the 5th phase of coronavirus exit plan, which means shows and fairs would not be able to open from Aug. 1 as it was originally planned.
Mayors are free to introduce stricter measures in the municipalities if the epidemiological situation demands so.
Between early June and mid-July, Belgium reported the daily number of new COVID-19 infections at an average of 100. From July 13, the number of cases increased. On July 20, a record number of 370 new cases were registered.
A total of 64,627 people in the country have been infected since the virus outbreak, while 9,808 patients lost their lives.
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 15.26 million cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed worldwide, with over 624,300 deaths, and over 8.7 million recovered.
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