Brussels, 18 November 2021 (dpa/MIA) – Belgium became the latest European country to row back on the easing of coronavirus measures on Wednesday as it confronts a mushrooming number of infections and hospitalizations.
The Covid-19 Consultation Committee, which decides public health measures, instructed employees in Belgium to work mainly from home for most of the week and ramped up mask mandates.
The requirement to work from home goes into effect on Saturday and calls for people to stay away from their office for four out of five days in the working week.
A broader return to mask-wearing was also reinstated by the committee.
“The committee has opted for maximum caution,” Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said.
Belgium will also start opening up booster shots to anyone who has already received their full course of vaccination against the coronavirus.
Despite a high vaccination rate of 75 per cent, according to government statistics, case numbers are on the rise and pressure on hospitals is mounting.
Some 7 per cent of of Belgium‘s 11.5 million residents have already had a booster shot against the virus. Covid-19 has claimed 26,000 lives in the country and 5 million worldwide, according to the Worldometers data aggregator.
According to the latest data, 1,116 new infections per 100,000 people were counted within 14 days – an increase of 38 per cent over the previous period.
The number of infected patients coming to hospital every day with Covid has increased by 59 per cent.
The small nation relaxed the strictest of containment measures progressively over the past six months. Nightclubs reopened at the start of October, for example.
Belgium will join the ranks of the Netherlands, Austria, Latvia and Greece in toughening measures.