On Friday, November 27, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo announced that current lockdown measures will be adapted, with some measures being extended and others eased. All non-essential shops will be permitted to reopen from Tuesday, December 1. People are required to shop alone and can only stay in a shop for 30 minutes. Museums and swimming pools can also reopen, providing they follow health guidelines. However, bars, restaurants, and other businesses in the hospitality sector will remain closed until at least January 15, 2021. The same applies to hairdressers, beauticians, and other personal care services. The current ban on gatherings and curfew measures (from midnight to 05:00 (local time) in Flanders and from 22:00 to 06:00 in Wallonia and the Brussels Capital region) remain in force.
A slight easing of some measures has been allowed for the Christmas holiday period. On December 24 and 25 people living alone will be allowed to socialize with both their close contacts and other households will be able to be in close contact with one additional person. The 22:00 curfew start in Wallonia and Brussels will be pushed back to midnight on Christmas Eve. No such easing will be in place on New Year's Eve and fireworks will be banned.
As of Saturday, November 28, health authorities in Belgium have confirmed 570,829 cases of COVID-19, with 16,339 associated deaths. Further international spread of the virus is expected in the near term.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Since then, human-to-human transmission of the virus has been confirmed.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, dry cough, and tiredness. Some patients may experience other symptoms such as body pains, nasal congestion, headache, conjunctivitis, sore throat, diarrhea, loss of taste or smell, or a rash on skin or discoloration of fingers or toes. These symptoms (in most cases mild) appear gradually. Generally, most patients (around 80 percent) recover from the disease without being hospitalized.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.