Belgium announces return to national lockdown after Covid-19 cases surge

Belgium announces return to national lockdown
The new lockdown measures will last until at least the middle of December. Source: Getty Images
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Daily US Times: Belgium has announced a return to a national lockdown after data shows the country has the highest Covid-19 infection rate in Europe.

Non-essential businesses and shops offer personal services like hair salons have been ordered to close from Monday until the middle of December.

Any gatherings in public spaces must be limited to a maximum of four people.

Households are allowed just one visitor and supermarkets can only sell essential goods.

Autumn school holidays have also been extended until 15 November.

The existing night-time curfew measures and closures of restaurants and bars will remain in place.

During the first wave of the pandemic in the spring, Belgium suffered one of the highest death rates in the world.

The country now has the highest infection rate in Europe with more than half of the 2,000 beds in its intensive care units (ICU) already occupied by Covid-19 patients.

Prime Minister Alexander de Croo said on Friday that the country “finds itself in a health emergency”.

He said: “The pressure on our hospitals is huge,” while announcing the new measures, adding: “These are last-chance measures if we want to get the figures down.”

Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke said the new lockdown measures “will not plunge people into isolation.”

The minister said: “It’s a lockdown, but a lockdown that allows factories to operate, that will allow schools to open cautiously.”

According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, there have been 1,600 infections and 8.4 deaths per 100,000 people in the last 14 days.

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