Updates on COVD-19: Measures and restrictions for the public

More stringent measures are being taken in Belgium to combat the corona virus. The federal government announced this after a meeting of the National Security Council. Our country follows the example of Italy, Spain and France, which were previously completely locked. So everyone should stay at home as much as possible. Only necessary trips (work, buying food, doctor or pharmacy) are still allowed. The measures will take effect March 18th from noon and will certainly apply until April 5th 2020.

Who will be affected?

This will affect all Belgian residents and foreign nationals staying in Belgium.

The basic rules

The most important basic rule: stay at home as much as possible and avoid as many contacts as possible. In addition, the basic hygiene measures that you can view below remain:

Movements

Movements to work are allowed.

These essential movements are also allowed: to the food shops, the doctor, the post office, the bank, the pharmacist, to refuel or to help people in need.

Outdoor exercise is also permitted. The government even recommends it. You can do this with family members living under the same roof or with a friend. It is important to keep a reasonable distance.

No gatherings are allowed.

Stores

Non-essential shops and businesses are closed.

Food stores just stay open. Hoarding is therefore not necessary. At supermarkets, access is limited to 1 person per 10 square meters, a customer may also stay in the store for a maximum of 30 minutes.

Pharmacies, pet food stores and newsagents will also remain open.

Night shops are allowed to stay open until 10 pm.

As far as hairdressers are concerned, 1 customer is allowed per hairdresser at a time.

Markets are banned, only food stalls are allowed to stand if they are really indispensable.

Catering industry

All cafes and restaurants remain closed.

Cafés are obliged to bring in their patio furniture.

To work

You can still go to work, but teleworking should become the standard “for every job that allows it”. Companies where teleworking is not possible must respect the rules of “social distancing”.

Companies that cannot guarantee these rules must close. If companies ignore the rules, they risk heavy fines or even a shutdown.

An exception will only be made for certain crucial sectors, such as the medical and essential services. But here, too, the rules of “social distancing” must be observed.

A list of essential professions is still being drawn up.

Schools

All classes remain suspended. Strictly speaking, the schools are not closed, as childcare is provided for children of parents who work in the medical and health sector or who are responsible for public safety. Children who can only be cared for by the elderly can also attend the schools.

Nurseries remain open.

Universities and universities of applied sciences are encouraged to teach as much as possible through distance learning, something that almost all institutions have responded to.

No events or religious services

All recreational, sporting, cultural and folkloric events are cancelled. This applies to public events as well as private activities.

Marriages and funerals are only allowed to continue in a limited circle, although the Catholic Church has decided in the meantime that church marriages and baptisms will not take place at all for the time being.

Day centres or residential care centres

At the level of the Flemish government, it has already been decided that visitors may no longer visit residential care centres for the elderly, in psychiatric institutions and in residential facilities for people with disabilities.

Day centres and service centres have completely closed their doors.

Public transport

Public transport will still run, but must organize in such a way that travellers can sit 1.5 meters apart.

Traveling abroad

Non-essential travel abroad is prohibited until April 5th.

The airports remain open, although there are now a lot fewer flights.

Controls and fines

The police will strictly monitor that the measures are strictly observed. Anyone who does not comply with the measures risks a prison sentence of 3 months and a fine of up to 4,000 euros. It also includes a criminal conviction and a criminal record. The measures already apply until April 5th 2020.

Information about corona measures in Belgium can be found on the website https://www.info-coronavirus.be/ or via telephone: 0800-14.689. Of course you can also always contact Santa Fe:

Annika Tossyn
Immigration Specialist
Annika.Tossyn@santaferelo.com

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