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Coronavirus

Belgium to Reopen Bars, Restaurants Next Week

BRUSSELS — Bars and restaurants in Belgium will be allowed to reopen starting Monday after more than two months of closed doors due to the coronavirus pandemic as the country enters a new phase in its lockdown exit plan.

Prime Minister Sophie Wilmes said Wednesday that cinemas and other cultural venues will have to wait until July 1 before opening their doors with the audiences limited to 200 people.

Wilmes said a public health protocol will need to be observed at bars and restaurants. Tables will be spaced at least 1.5 meters apart and seat a maximum of 10 people, and waiters must wear face masks.

She said: “It’s not the finish line, but it’s a big step forward."

The prime minister added: “But make no mistake, the epidemic has not disappeared. The virus is not gone, and neither are the risks.”

Starting Monday, Belgium residents also will be authorized to meet with 10 different people every week beyond those with whom they share a household.

Wilmes also announced the reopening of Belgium's borders with other countries from Europe's 26-nation Schengen Area and from Britain as of June 15.

Belgium has recorded more than 9,500 virus-related deaths but the number of new confirmed cases in the country has nosedived in recent weeks.

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