Belgium loosens coronavirus restrictions despite infection rate rise

Belgium has announced a loosening of coronavirus restrictions – despite the country’s rising infection rate.

Face masks will, from October 1, only be mandatory in crowded places, the country’s prime minister Sophie Wilmes said on Wednesday. Currently the masks are required at all times, everywhere.

But, despite the easing of restrictions outdoors, masks will still have to be worn in shops, cinemas and on public transport.

Wilmes said the quarantine period for carriers of the virus and potentially infected people will be reduced from 14 to seven days.

“Some other countries take harsher measurements, locally or partially in lockdown, for example, in Spain,” she said.

“For this reason, we must remain vigilant. The corona pandemic is not over yet. This is the situation. The virus is not going away, but life must restart eventually.”

Coronavirus numbers have been on the rise in Belgium, with infections rising dramatically in the past week by 65%.

This was reflected in the government’s revision of the so-called “bubble of five measure” – the rule determining how many people you can have close contact with – which will now be set depending on the situation of the virus in the country.

Belgium’s government announced earlier this week that, from Friday, it would drop its outright ban on travel to high-risk areas for catching coronavirus. It will instead “strongly discourage” travel to such places.

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