Bars and cafes in Brussels were on Wednesday ordered to shut for a month due to a surge in Covid-19 cases. Gatherings of more than four people inside or outside have also been banned.
Health officials said that hospitals in Brussels are already under stress and have begun transferring patients to hospitals outside the capital.
Young people continue to account for the majority of infections and hospitalisations but an increase in cases among older people has also been observed.
Authorities partially blame the latest surge on people of all ages growing complacent and not taking basic precautions.
The Brussels Times is reporting that the city’s decision to close down bars is a step in the right direction but has come too late to halt the soaring rate of new coronavirus infections.
Erika Vlieghe, a leading virologist advising the government, said that the new Brussels measures need to be linked with more efforts to raise awareness among the public.
“The measures should have come earlier. But it is good that they are here now,” Vlieghe said. “I also think it’s important that they are accompanied by an information campaign to reach people of all ages and backgrounds.”
“Just closing the cafes is not enough for me,” Kenneth Coenye at Cliniques Saint-Jean in Brussels said. “I am also not convinced that the problem really lies there.”
Among European capitals, Brussels is second after Madrid for new daily infections.
The tiny country of 11 million has the sixth highest case-fatality ratio in the world, according to Johns Hopkins University.