Belgium, one of the European countries worst hit by the new coronavirus, tightened restrictions on social contacts on Friday by banning fans from sports matches, limiting the number of people in cultural spaces and closing theme parks.
Belgium had already closed cafes, bars and restaurants and imposed a night curfew, and has Europe’s second highest infection rate per capita after the Czech Republic. New infections hit a peak of 10,500 on Thursday.
But the government has resisted calls from medical experts to order a new lockdown to avoid causing more economic pain.
The restrictions – running until Nov. 19 – also include stricter social distancing. They are intended to avoid crowding on public transport, and impose a limit of 200 people in theatres, concert halls and cinemas.
“We are pressing the pause button …. we have a single objective, which is to limit contacts that are not strictly necessary,” Belgian Prime Minister Alexander de Croo told a news conference. “There’s no law that can stop the virus, the only ones who can stop it are us … all together.”