BRUSSELS, Nov 26, Belgium brought in new restrictions on Friday such as the closure of nightclubs and an earlier end for bars and restaurants to reduce social contact and curb a rapidly spreading fourth wave of COVID 19 infections.
The pressure on the health service is mounting, according to the Belgian premier Alexander De Croo, who said the situation is worse now than the most pessimismistic view of the experts from only two weeks ago.
If we did not have such a high vaccination rate today, we would be in an absolutely terrible situation. The measures, which are going to be in effect on Saturday for three weeks, come a week after a previous package of coronaviruses restrictions, including enforcing wider use of masks and more working from home.
The Christmas markets, cultural venues, bars and restaurants will have to close at 11 p.m. with a maximum of six people per table. Private parties and gatherings are not allowed unless they are for weddings or funerals.
Belgians will have to do shopping on their own.
The health ministers of the country will meet on Saturday to discuss accelerating the roll-out of vaccine booster doses. Primary school teachers and childcare staff may be given priority.
Belgium, home to the European Union institutions and the NATO headquarters, has the sixth-highest number of cases per capita rate in Europe, behind the likes of Austria and Slovakia that have re-entered lockdowns. One in 60 people were confirmed to have been infected over the past 14 days, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
The EU's fatality rate is just below the EU average, with 75% of the population vaccinated against COVID - 19.
The Belgian government will meet again on December 15 to review the situation.