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Exit strategy: Start of Phase 2 from 18 May

Today, Wednesday 13 May, the National Security Council met with the Minister-Presidents. Based on the report by the Group of Experts for an Exit Strategy (GEES), the National Security Council has decided to initiate Phase 2 of the exit plan from 18 May.

During this phase, schools will gradually reopen for some primary and secondary pupils, under strict organisational conditions. Pre-schools will remain closed at this stage and higher education has already planned through to the end of the academic year in cooperation with the community authorities.

A second aspect in this phase is culture. The National Security Council has decided that museums and cultural attractions, i.e. historic buildings and monuments, castles and citadels, can reopen their doors from 18 May, provided they set up an online or phone ticketing system and take the necessary measures to avoid overcrowding. Libraries will remain open, under the same conditions as now.

As far as economic life is concerned, it has been decided that professions requiring close contact with customers can resume their activities in this phase, subject to certain conditions. For instance, they must work by appointment, wear a mask or mouth-nose protection (both staff and customers) and respect social distancing between customers. Furthermore, markets may be re-organised with the agreement of local authorities. The markets may have a maximum of 50 stalls, a circulation plan must be drawn up and social distancing must be respected at all times. It is mandatory for vendors and their staff to wear a mask or mouth-nose protection and customers are strongly advised to do the same.

Finally, a number of other decisions have been taken with regard to sports and leisure. Nature attractions, such as zoos, will also be allowed to reopen, provided that they introduce an online or phone ticketing system to restrict access to the public, that they draw up a circulation plan and that cafeterias and restaurants remain closed, as well as attractions and playgrounds. Regular outdoor group sports training and lessons may resume, provided social distancing is adhered to and a coach is present. Groups may not exceed 20 persons and sports clubs may re-open only on condition that all possible measures are taken to guarantee the safety of the sportsmen and sportswomen. With regard to weddings and funerals, a maximum of 30 people will be allowed to attend from 18 May under certain conditions, such as respecting social distancing. However, it is not permitted to organise a reception after the ceremony.

The next phase of the exit strategy will not take place before 8 June. After Phase 3, there will be more phases. Many activities are resuming which impacts the amount of contact people have. It is the intention to gradually allow people to resume their activities and for it to happen as safely as possible.

The detailed plan for the gradual phasing out of restrictions applied to all sports and culture-related activities will be communicated as soon as it has been agreed upon with the GEES. The same applies to the gradual resumption of tourism activities and the reopening of restaurants, terraces and cafés.

We must also consider in which phase and under which conditions we will be able to extend our social contacts, allow for summer and youth camps, resume worship services and hold gatherings and events of various sizes.

What we can say is that all cultural, sports, tourism and recreational events remain prohibited until 30 June.