24 September 2020: Update on the Corona Pandemic - Ghent is capping the size of crowds allowed into popular student neighbourhood
24 September 2020: Belgium has turned red on the European coronavirus map, meaning over 120 new coronavirus infections per 100,000 inhabitants were recorded in the last two weeks. In attempt to drive compliance to the rules to curb the spread of the pandemic, the government announced yesterday an update of the measures that are currently in place. The new simplified rules will become effective from 1 October. The key highlights are: (1) everyone is allowed to have close contact with maximum 5 other people - close contact meaning, being physically close to someone who does not live under the same roof, for more than 15 minutes, without keeping a distance and without a facemask, and (2) face masks will only be mandatory in crowded places, as well as in shops and on public transport. Despite the worrying development of the number of coronavirus infections throngs of students continue to pack the Overpoortstraat, a popular student neighbourhood in the city, crowding bar terraces and sidewalks with many flouting social distancing rules. Earlier this week, the mayor of Ghent already capped the size of crowds allowed into the street, bars have sprawled their terraces onto the sidewalk in an effort to provide more space for clients to social distance and visible police patrols are driving enforcement of the rules. I’m wondering if all of this will be enough to stop the spread of the virus - Overpoortstraat, Ghent, Belgium
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