Sophie Wilmès, Belgium’s Prime Minister, announced on Thursday a series of emergency measures to stem spread of Coronavirus, following a long meeting of the National Security Council (CNS).
“It is not a lockdown, but an attempt to prevent the Italian scenario,” Wilmès said.
As of Friday midnight and until April 3, all school lessons will be suspended, bars, restaurants and cafés in the country will close, and all recreational events regardless of size will be cancelled.
For parents working in the healthcare and security sector or have no other choice, schools with a daycare service and kindergardens will remain open. Food markets and pharmacies, as well as public transport will also remain at the public’s service.
Wilmès also urged “all levels of government to make sure the measures are applied,” stressing the need for cooperation and coordination. During discussions, the French-speaking Wallonia was supporting more restrictive measures, while the Dutch-speaking Flemish were more reluctant due to dears of economic shock.
So far, COVID-19 has caused 3 deaths in Belgium, with 556 confirmed cases of the virus.
Belgian nationals and foreigners working in the country have repeatedly called for immediate action, accusing the government of ignoring the severity of the situation, with the hashtag #StayHomeBelgium appearing on Twitter earlier this week.