Belgium is enforcing a strict lockdown starting Sunday amid rising coronavirus infections, hospital admissions and a surge of deaths, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo announced on Friday.
Why it matters: De Croo said the government saw no choice but to lock down "to ensure that our health care system does not collapse." Scientists and health officials said deaths have doubled every six days, per the Guardian.
Details: De Croo added that these measures are Belgium's "last chance" and said they will remain in place through at least Dec. 13, but will be evaluated on Dec. 1, according to the Brussels Times.
- Non-essential and non-medical businesses — such as hair salons, bars and restaurants — will close.
- Indoor gatherings are no longer permitted and outdoor gatherings will be limited to four people.
- Schools are to remain closed until mid-November.
The big picture: Belgium has seen over 392,000 cases and more than 11,000 deaths since the pandemic got underway, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
- This is Belgium's second lockdown of the pandemic, after the country first shut down in March, according to Politico.
What they're saying: "If the figures continue to rise at this rate, it is simple: there will come a time when the doors of our intensive care will close,” Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke said.
Worth noting: Belgium is the third European country to impose lockdown measures this week.
- French President Emmanuel Macron announced a second nationwide lockdown on Wednesday.
- German Chancellor Angela Merkel increased lockdown measures on Wednesday, closing bars and restaurants nationwide.
Go deeper: A new round of coronavirus shutdowns hits the U.S. and Europe