Belgium eases some pandemic rules, stays strict on Christmas

BRUSSELS (AP) — Belgium has relaxed some rules imposed to contain the coronavirus resurgence but is remaining strict on family gatherings over Christmas.

Now that all the virus indicators are declining, the government said Friday that non-essential shops could open under restricted conditions next week. Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said that beyond containing the virus, everyone had to make sure that loneliness did not strike.

“We must also be sure that during Christmas and New Year people are not alone, so that is why on the evening of December 24 or 25 isolated people, people living alone, will have the possibility to invite up to two people inside their home,” De Croo said.

It was only a tiny concession for the Christmas break, compared to what some other European nations envisage.

One of the hardest-hit countries in Europe, Belgium has reported more than 16,000 deaths linked to the coronavirus.

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