Eat out, work out, see a film: Belgium to ease lockdown

People celebrate the end of the curfew, as Belgium reopens their outdoor space, including terraces of bars and restaurants, after closing down for months due to the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in central Brussels, Belgium, May 8, 2021. REUTERS
Bars, restaurants, cinemas and fitness centres in Belgium will be allowed to welcome guests indoors from June 9, the broadcaster VRT reported on Tuesday.

The government was meeting to discuss a further easing of the restrictions imposed to curb the spread of coronavirus, including allowing more people to meet indoors, and permitting large summer festivals and travel abroad.

The health situation has improved in recent weeks, after the government closed shops and schools and banned foreign travel at the start of the year.

The seven-day average of daily infections stands at just under 3,000, a 4% drop from last week, and the numbers of people in hospitals and intensive care units are also falling.

"If this trend in hospitalisations continues, by the end of May, the number of people in intensive care should be around or below 500 beds," health ministry spokesman Yves Van Laethem told a news conference.

"This is an important number for easing lockdown measures."

More than 24,000 people have died from COVID-19 in Belgium, which has one of the highest death rates in the world, at over 200 per 100,000 population.

More than 3.6 million Belgians have received a first dose of vaccine, or almost 40 percent of the adult population.