Coronavirus: Belgium to allow people to invite four friends or family over as lockdown eases

Jimmy Nsubuga
·2 min read
BRUSSELS, April 16, 2020 .Citizens queue to enter a supermarket in Brussels, Begium, April 14, 2020.   Belgian Prime Minister Sophie Wilmes announced on Wednesday an extension of lockdown until May 3 to curb the spread of the coronavirus. (Photo by Zhang Cheng/Xinhua via Getty) (Xinhua/Zhang Cheng via Getty Images)
People queue to enter a supermarket in Brussels, Begium (Picture: Getty)

Belgium will allow people to invite four friends or family members to their homes as it continues to ease coronavirus lockdown restrictions.

Prime minister Sophie Wilmes announced on Wednesday that families would be permitted to host up to four people from Sunday (Mother’s Day).

She said the four guests always had to be the same and they had to maintain social distancing.

Ideally, this would be outside, such as in a garden or on a terrace, she added.

Wilmes said: “I recognise this does not replace the pleasure of being able to embrace someone you love, but we cannot do more for the time being.”

The country has one of the highest coronavirus death rates in the world.

Read more: Dutch restaurant trials glass cabins for diners to keep distance after lockdown

Belgian Prime Minister Sophie Wilmes attends a meeting of the National Safety Council with politicians and intelligence service officers, to discuss tackling the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) pandemic, on May 06, 2020 in Brussels. (Photo by Francois LENOIR / POOL / AFP) / Belgium OUT (Photo by FRANCOIS LENOIR/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Belgian Prime Minister Sophie Wilmes (Picture: Getty)

On Monday, all stores will be able to open, although they will have to limit the number of shoppers inside and make changes to protect staff.

Shoppers are strongly encouraged but not obliged to wear masks.

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Markets, cafes, restaurants, sports, cultural centres and tourist sites will remain closed.

Sports competitions will not restart before August.

Wilmes added: “Monitoring these rules is very complicated, but we are counting on your civic-mindedness and sense of responsibility.”

Read more: The high-profile names who have been accused of breaching lockdown rules

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - APRIL 10 : presentation of the new StaySafe Cube - Carrefour store during the outbreak of COVID-19. Illustration pictures on April 10, 2020 in Brussels, Belgium, 10/04/2020 ( Photo by Jimmy Bolcina / Photonews via Getty Images)
Belgians are slowly getting back to normal life. (Getty)

The country of 11.5 million people began easing lockdown restrictions at the start of this week, allowing businesses that do not have contact with consumers to restart.

It is among the European nations worst hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, with 50,781 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 8,339 deaths.

However, rates of new cases, hospital admissions and deaths have fallen steadily from early April peaks.

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