Belgium set for phased easing of lockdown from May 4


Belgium plans to allow a gradual easing of coronavirus restriction measures from May 4, with a series of phases of further re-opening during the course of the month.

Restrictions in the country, among the hardest hit by COVID-19, currently just permit shops selling food, home improvement stores, garden centers and pharmacies to open, with most people only allowed to work from home.

Prime Minister Sophie Wilmes told a news conference after seven hours of discussions on Friday that Belgium could tighten restrictions or delay easing depending on the health situation.

From May 4, more businesses will be allowed to reopen. People will also be allowed to meet up with two people not living with them as long as they are outside and keep a distance from each other.

A week later, all shops will be allowed to reopen, under strict social distancing conditions.

In a further phase from May 18, schools will welcome back some pupils, but classes will be kept to a maximum size of 10. People will be able to host small gatherings at home, visit a museum and go to a hairdresser.