POLITICS & INSTITUTIONS - ECONOMY

Belgian gov to gradually lift virus lockdown in May



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Normal activity in Belgium will resume in steps starting in May, the Belgian prime minister, Sophie Wilmès, said on 24 April 2020. Library picture: Sophie Wilmès speaks at a press conference, 21 February 2020. Photo credit: European Council 

During phase one, non-essential companies can return to work and public transport will return to regular schedules (although wearing a mask will be compulsory) on 4 May. Shops, but not hairdressers, can reopen on 11 May.

During phase two, which begins on 18 May, school will resume, with a maximum of 10 students per classroom. It is likely some small social gatherings and travel to second homes will be permitted.

Phase three starts on 8 June, allowing restaurants and eventually bars and cafés to reopen. Summer vacation travel will be allowed. Large public events, such as festivals, will not be permitted through 31 August, at the earliest.

The government’s press conference was covered by the AFP, BBC, Bloomberg, Euractiv and Politico.

More than have 44,200 people in Belgium have contracted covid-19 and 6,679 people have died as of Thursday. That is the highest death rate per capita in Europe, per Euronews and NPR.

The country’s lockdown began on 12 March.

The grand duchy’s other neighbouring countries have already outlined their exit strategies. In France, schools and retailers, but not cafés and restaurants, will be able to reopen on 11 May, per Reuters and RFI.

In Germany, some shops were allowed to reopen earlier this week and schools will resume on 4 May, per CNBC and Deutsche Welle.

Luxembourg’s deconfinement plan began last Monday and the government is expected to outline further measures on 11 May.