News Alerts

23 Jul 2020 | 03:37 PM UTC

Belgium: Face masks to be compulsory in crowded public places from July 25 /update 18

Belgium News Alert

Face masks to be compulsory in crowded public places from July 25 amid rising COVID-19 infections; follow official directives

TIMEFRAME expected from 7/23/2020, 12:00 AM until 8/1/2020, 11:59 PM (Europe/Brussels). COUNTRY/REGION Belgium

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Event

Prime Minister Sophie Wilmes has announced that the wearing of face masks will be compulsory in all crowded public places across Belgium from Saturday, July 25, as the government responds to a recent surge in new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infections. The measure will apply in outdoor markets, shopping thoroughfares, and other crowded areas, with police expected to enforce the directive. Customers will also be required to wear face coverings in bars, cafes, and restaurants when not seated. The government also stated that more targeted lockdowns could be implemented by local authorities in response to specific COVID-19 clusters.

As well as the new face mask requirements, contact-tracing measures at bars and restaurants are also to be more vigorously applied, while night shops will be required to close by 22:00 (local time). However, a planned reduction in the number of social contacts people are permitted to meet in a week from 15 to ten has been rejected by the government.

The tightening of restrictions comes amid a significant spike in COVID-19 cases in Belgium, with several simultaneous disease clusters causing a 91 percent increase in infections over the last week.

As of Thursday, July 23, health authorities have confirmed 64,627 cases of COVID-19 in Belgium, with 9808 associated deaths. Further spread of the virus is expected in the near term.

Context

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.

Advice

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.

 

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