Belgium reported a new one-day record for coronavirus infections on Saturday, a day after the government announced it would be further tightening restrictions on public life.
The national health authority Sciensano said that 21,448 cases were recorded on Tuesday – the most recent day for which consolidated figures are available. With a population of just more than 11 million, Belgium is one of the countries in the European Union with the highest number of registered coronavirus infections relative to population size.
Prime Minister Alexander De Croo on Friday announced that, as of Monday, all non-essential shops will have to close for at least one month. Customers can still order online and pick their items up.
People working in professions with close customer contact – such as hairdressers – will have to completely stop their activities.
Until mid-December, social contacts will also be severely restricted: After Sunday, only one visit per house is allowed per week – except for people living alone, who can welcome one more visit per week.
The decision is in response to a continued rise in coronavirus cases despite the closure of bars, cafes and restaurants. Hospitals have started to feel the squeeze, sometimes dramatically, with some reaching capacity and having to transfer patients to other hospitals.
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