Belgium tightened its coronavirus rules on Friday as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations rise despite new measures introduced this week.
“The number of beds in the intensive care unit has doubled in one week. The red line has been crossed, and that is of course very worrying,” said Prime Minister Alexander De Croo at a news conference, adding: “The analysis we drew yesterday is much worse. than the worst case scenario established by the experts. “
The government will speed up the roll-out of COVID boostershots with teachers prioritized. “If we had not had the vaccine, the situation would have been much more dramatic. But despite this, the situation in the health care system is not sustainable,” De Croo said.
Health ministers from across the country will meet on Saturday to discuss the timeline for the rollout of booster shots.
“Our mission is very clear: we need to take steps to reduce the pressure on health care,” De Croo said, stressing the need to respect social distancing measures.
New test centers will be opened, and from December 2, a new website will serve as a replacement for the overwhelming contact-and-tracking service
It will be mandatory to work from home four days a week until December 19 – as opposed to December 12. From December 20, teleworking will be mandatory three days a week.
The obligation to wear a mask is extended, also in schools, to children aged 10 and over. If two cases are detected in a class, all high-risk students should be tested. If there are three cases, classes can go into self-isolation.
Mixing of school classes should be avoided as much as possible, with leisure activities prohibited.
In the restaurant industry, a curfew will be introduced for restaurants at 23.00. A maximum of six people will be allowed per. table, unless they are members of the same household. The Christmas markets must also close at 23.00
Public venues such as nightclubs, bars and concert venues where social distancing cannot be respected are required to close for the next four weeks, from this Saturday to December 15th.
Private parties will be prohibited, except for weddings and funerals. A COVID passport is required for events where at least 50 people participate indoors and 100 outdoors. Supporters will not be allowed in outdoor sports venues except for parents of children under 18 years of age.
On Wednesday, all 10 provincial governors called on the advisory committee which decides the measures to meet earlier than planned, as they consider the current ones to be “inadequate and incoherent.”
Belgian hospitals received an average of 303 COVID-19 patients a day between November 19-25, according to the National Institutes of Health. About 669 COVID-19 patients are on intensive care.
The Advisory Committee will meet again on 15 December.