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BRUSSELS, Nov 17: Belgium Wednesday announced a raft of measures to stem the spread of coronavirus. Face coverings become mandatory in indoor public spaces, on public transport, in hospitality, at health care centres, at events both indoor and outdoor, in shops and malls, in public buildings and businesses where there is public access, in libraries, at gyms and in places of worship. “We had all hoped to have a corona-free winter, but our country is not an island. If we look at the European map, we see the same trend across Europe, with a number of countries turning red again,” Prime Minister Alexander De Croo told a news conference after a meeting this evening of the consultative committee which is responsible for the restrictions. The age at which children are obliged to wear a face covering is being lowered to ten years of age – down from 12.
The Covid Safe Ticket and face coverings will be required at public and private events for 50 and more people indoors and 100 and more people outdoors. Four days of homeworking a week become obligatory till 12 December. After 12 December three days of homeworking a week will be required. Businesses where this is not possible will enjoy an exemption. In the next ten days the Belgian government will finalise plans for a booster or third jab to be offered to everybody by the end of March or April. Over 65s and health care workers are first in line.
“The virus variant we are seeing today is three times more infectious than the one that initially emerged. All alarm signals are red,” said De Croo. “That is why we are taking broad measures. Measures everyone can follow, so we can avoid another lockdown,” he added. According to Belgian health authorities , infection levels are at one of the highest levels since the start of the pandemic in Belgium. Since the start of the pandemic there have been 1,523,862 recorded cases in the county. On average during the last seven-day observation period, the week to 13 November, 10,283 new cases of coronavirus were confirmed each day. 2,693 patients are currently in hospital with Covid. The figure is up 25 per cent on the week. 557 patients are in intensive care. In the week to 13 November on average 26 deaths a day were linked to Covid. (KUNA)