Belgium to relax face mask rules
However, it will be strongly recommended in heavily frequented places and in areas where a 1.5-meter safety distance cannot be guaranteed. These places will be determined at a local level, according to the government's risk management strategy during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Belgium must learn to live with COVID-19 and manage the risks it entails, Prime Minister Sophie Wilmes said after a meeting of the country's National Security Council.
Outlining the risk management strategy, Wilmes said she hoped that life would soon return to normal.
The "six golden rules -- namely regular hand washing, social distancing, wearing a mask, favoring outdoor activities, protecting the elderly and protecting the sick -- are the basis of our strategy to control the epidemic," she said.
According to the strategy, gatherings remain limited to a maximum of ten people, although this rule does not apply to children.
The government has also decided to increase the testing capacity of the country's existing COVID-19 centers and to establish new screening points. On Sept. 30, Belgium will also launch the "CoronaAlert" mobile application.
Under the country's new quarantine regime, from Oct. 1 the current 14-day isolation will be reduced to seven days.
The quarantine obligation will continue to apply to people returning to Belgium from so-called orange or red zones. Traveling to such zones will be strongly discouraged but not prohibited from this Friday onwards.
Belgium's Sciensano Institute reported a daily average of 1,374 new COVID-19 cases over the past seven days.
The country has reported a total of 105,226 cases and 9,955 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.