The governments of Italy and Belgium decided to ease social and commercial restrictions in the coming days amid the second wave of the covid-19 pandemic on the European continent due to a decrease in the number of infections.
What actions will Italy take?
As of Sunday, the Italian government decided to ease restrictions in force to curb the virus in Lombardy (Milan), Piedmont (Turin) and Calabria (Cosenza). These three regions, until now classified as “red areas”, with greater risk, will become “orange areas”, according to a provision signed by the Minister of Health, Roberto Speranza.
Its inhabitants will now be able to move freely within the territory of their commune of residence between 05:00 and 22:00, and they will only be able to leave their commune or their region for professional, health reasons or to accompany their children to school .
Retail stores can open their doors, as can shopping centers, except on the weekend. The restaurants, bars and pastry shops, however, are not allowed to reopen.
As of Sunday, only the Valle de Aosta (Alpine region close to France), the province of Bolzano (Alpine region close to Austra), Tuscany, Abruzzo (L’Aquila) and Campania (Naples) will remain in the red zone. In these regions, the population can only leave their home for work or health reasons, to accompany their children to school or to shop, by filling in a form.
Most of the stores are closed, except for food stores, pharmacies, opticians, funeral parlors and hairdressers. Shopping centers, bars and restaurants are closed.
On the other hand, Liguria (Genoa) and Sicily, until now “orange zones”, have moved to “yellow zones”, which are the places with the lowest risk. In these regions it is possible to circulate freely outside the curfew. The bars and restaurants can open until 6:00 p.m.
The government announced on Friday a new health officer in Calabria, the tip of the Italian boot, where the cascading resignations of those responsible caused a national controversy. The prefect Guido Longo will manage the fight against the pandemic in the most deprived region of Italy and ravaged by the mafia.
What measures will Belgium apply?
The Belgian government also announced that shops will reopen in Belgium as of December 1, but the partial confinement that has allowed a decrease in COVID-19 infections will continue in force.
“As of December 1, the stores will be able to reopen,” declared the prime minister, Alexander De Croo, to public television. “The situation in our country improves (…) but it is important to stay the course,” he added, noting that the Christmas and New Years holidays will be “different” this year.
The reopening of shops “must be done in a responsible and safe manner,” that is, one “will go shopping alone and for a short time,” he said. The Croo. This decision comes after the reopening of stores in France, announced for this Saturday.
The shops are open in the rest of the neighboring countries of Belgium: Germany, Luxembourg, Holland. Until now, only the businesses considered essential had been able to continue their activity.
The kingdom of 11.5 million inhabitants, home to the European institutions and NATO, was hit hard by the second wave of the pandemic and, since October 30, has been under a new confinement.
The closure of bars, restaurants and cafes, the obligation to work remotely when possible, the limitation of social contacts and the midnight curfew at 05:00 will remain in effect.
This year, “we will celebrate Christmas as a family, few in number, it will be more intimate” and there will be a general ban on fireworks at New Years, the prime minister explained. “We must not ruin in four days what we have done in four weeks,” he insisted, suggesting a possible relief from confinement from mid-January, if the numbers of infections continue to decline.
Further, The Croo He advised his fellow citizens against traveling to countries where the incidence of the virus is higher, and announced border controls and a verification of quarantine measures for people returning from red zones.
Belgium registered more than 16,300 deaths and about 570,000 cases since the start of the pandemic. Last week, about 2,765 new cases were registered per day, which is five times less than a month ago. The country expects to drop to 500 infections a day by the end of the year.