May 30, 2020 / 4:06 AM / a month ago

Belgium to restart cross-border family visits from May 30

(Reuters) - Belgium will allow cross-border travel to visit family members in neighbouring countries from Saturday, in a slight easing of travel restrictions imposed to curb the coronavirus, the interior minister said on Friday.

Belgian Interior Minister Pieter De Crem said on Facebook that a ministerial decree will be published on Saturday.

“From tomorrow it will again be possible to visit family members in our neighbouring countries,” he said.

De Crem said travellers must comply with coronavirus precautions in bordering countries - France, Luxembourg, Germany and the Netherlands.

Non-essential travel to and from Belgium has been restricted since mid-March.

The European Union’s (EU) executive Commission pushed this month to reopen the bloc’s internal borders, but recommended that external borders remain closed for most travel until 15 June.

The Belgian government has also drawn up rules that cafes and restaurants must follow when they reopen, although a date for this has not been fixed, economy and consumer affairs minister Nathalie Muylle told the VRT public broadcaster.

Restaurants and cafes must keep tables 1.5 metres apart, close at midnight, and take orders at a customer’s table, not at the counter. Reservations will be required at restaurants, while in cafes one customer per table must leave their contact details to enable contact tracing in the event of an outbreak.

Belgium has been among the worst-affected countries in Europe with 58,061 COVID-19 cases and 9,430 deaths, although the number of cases, hospital admissions and fatalities has declined since peaking in early April.

Reporting by Kate Abnett; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne

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