Belgium back on lockdown

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

With figures showing it has the highest Covid-19 infection rate in Europe – 1.6% of its population has tested positive in the past two weeks – Belgium has announced a return to a national lockdown.

On Friday evening, Prime Minister Alexander de Croo acknowledged that the country found itself in a national emergency, and that its hospitals were under huge pressure.

Non-essential shops are to close on Monday and remain closed until 15 December: bars and restaurants had already been closed. Teleworking is mandatory wherever possible; the wearing of masks is mandatory wherever it is not.

A week-long autumn holiday at the start of November has been extended by an additional week, after which kindergarten and primary school students will attend school normally. Secondary schooling will be part-online.

University lectures will effectively be held online until December, and only first-year students will return to campus on that date.

Unlike neighbouring France, people will not need a reason to leave home, but public gatherings are restricted to four people and only one visitor will be allowed in each household – two for those who live alone. A midnight to 5am curfew will continue.