One of Europe’s major port cities, Antwerp, has announced significant new restrictions including a night curfew as Belgium strives to halt a worrying rise in local coronavirus cases.
Only people going out to work and hospital will be allowed to be out of their homes between 11.30pm and 6am, with the mandatory wearing of facemasks imposed in all public spaces. Companies have been directed to allow remote working in all circumstances unless where its absolutely impossible.
The northern city of Antwerp appears to be the epicentre of what is being described as a second wave, with half of Belgium’s current active cases being located there. However, stricter rules have been imposed nationally, with Belgian Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès reducing social gathering to five people and event sizes halved to 100 in closed establishments. These new measures will be implemented for around a month.
Contact tracing requirements have been significantly enhanced with customers at bars and restaurants being required to leave ways of being contacted.
Infections in Belgium are on the rise again, with an average of 542 cases every day, significantly higher than the previous week when the average stood at 279.
The Belgian Government is attempting to organise the coordination of social restrictions which are ultimately the responsibility of regional authorities. The federal government said that the increase in new cases was visible throughout the country. While Brussels seemingly had a smaller increase, the Brussels Times reported that doctors have cautioned that numbers in the capital could actually be higher due to underreporting and due to the lack of space and staff for testing.