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07 oct. 2020 | 17h24 UTC

Belgium: Bars and cafes in Brussels ordered to close for one month from October 8 /update 25

Belgium Alerte de sécurité

Bars and cafes in Brussels ordered to close for one month from October 8 amid surge in COVID-19 cases; follow official directives

TIMEFRAME expected from 7/10/2020, 12h00 until 8/11/2020, 11h59 (Europe/Brussels). COUNTRY/REGION Brussels

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Event

Local authorities in Brussels have announced that bars and cafes in the capital will be forced to close for one month from Thursday, October 8, following a surge in coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in the city. New restrictions mean that those in the city will also be prohibited from drinking alcohol outdoors. Brussels has seen some of the highest rates of COVID-19 infections in Europe in recent weeks, with 502 cases per 100,000 residents recorded on October 7.

The local measures come a day after the Belgian government announced a tightening of national COVID-19 restrictions from Friday, October 9, including a requirement for bars to close no later than 23:00 (local time) and seat no more than four people per table. The number of people that individuals are allowed to have close contact with outside of their household has also been lowered to three, from five, and no more than four people should be invited inside a home or gather outside.

On September 23, the government largely eased restrictions, despite a recent increase in reported cases in the country. Individuals displaying COVID-19 symptoms, or people who have been in close proximity to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, will be required to self-isolate for seven days. Face coverings have no longer been required in crowded outdoor public spaces since October 1 unless specifically directed by local authorities, although face masks still have to be worn in shops, cinemas, on public transport, and other in enclosed public spaces.

As of Wednesday, October 7, there have been 134,291 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Belgium, with 10,092 associated deaths. Further international 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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