Belgian grandparents not in 'at risk' group told they can look after grandchildren again

538prom精品视频在线播放 Move comes as households in Belgium are now allowed to invite up to four guests to their home

Martha Licoppe gestures to her family in Brussels
In Belgium, some grandparents will be able to look after their grandchildren again Credit: REUTERS

Belgium gave the green light on Sunday for grandparents who are aged under 65 and free from underlying health conditions to look after their grandchildren again.

The move came as households were allowed to invite up to four guests to their home from Sunday. The guests must always be the same, and must live under the same roof. Two sets of four people constitute a “corona bubble”, who can visit each other’s homes. No-one else is allowed into the domestic social circle.

To be eligible for child care, grandparents must be part of the same “corona bubble” as their grandchildren.

Grandparents are not being told to maintain social distancing while caring for grandchildren because it would be impractical. Other social bubble guests are expected to remain 1.5 metres apart, and everyone is instructed to observe other barrier measures such as washing their hands regularly. The government suggests that they meet in gardens or on terraces where possible.

The authorities say they cannot police the new rules, so they are relying on people’s sense of civic duty.

538prom精品视频在线播放Sophie Wilmès, the prime minister, announced the social bubbles policy last week following accusations that the government had prioritised the economy over people’s desire to be reunited with family and friends.

Marie Lou Belenyesi, 4, and Paolo Belenyesi, 9, from Brussels say they miss their grandparents the most Credit: REUTERS

538prom精品视频在线播放“The physical separation from those whom we love has in some cases become unbearable,” she said. However, visitors are instructed not to hug, shake hands or exchange the customary “bise”, or three-kiss greeting.

Wouter Beke, the Flemish regional health and welfare minister, who announced the new policy on grandparents, said: “This is good news for many families and will give them additional support.”

However, many Belgians have been confused about the social bubble policy and some say it is impossible to observe.

“This has been explained to the public in a way that was unclear,” said Marguerite, a 32-year-old marketing executive in Brussels who declined to give her surname. “I understand what the government is trying to do, but families face difficult choices. In my case, for example, should it be my parents or my husband’s who join our bubble? Both sets of grandparents want to look after our daughters, but we now have to choose one at the risk of offending the other.”

538prom精品视频在线播放Epidemiologists advised the government to set the number of guests at four so contact tracing will be relatively straightforward if one is infected with Covid-19. Pairing two households may not be the way people would normally socialise, but it avoids the additional risk of freer mixing, scientists say.

“I think a lot of people are going to break these rules, knowing they won’t really be enforced,” Marguerite said.


In Spain and France, people are allowed to socialise in groups of up to 10. Bar terraces have reopened at a third of capacity in less affected parts of Spain, but in France restaurants and cafés remain closed except for takeaway.

538prom精品视频在线播放The number of daily Covid-19 deaths in Spain fell to 87 on Sunday, the first time the toll has dipped below 100 in two months. However, fatalities are often under-reported during weekends.

France reported 96 new deaths on Saturday and a cluster of 34 new coronavirus cases was detected at an abattoir in the central Val de Loire region. Abattoirs have been hard hit in several other countries including the United States.

Deaths total 27,650 in Spain and 27,425 in France.

538prom精品视频在线播放Spain is now “very close” to halting transmission of the virus, according to Fernando Simón, a health ministry official. Some 70 per cent of the country’s population will have emerged from lockdown this week, but restrictions are to remain in force in Madrid and Barcelona.

538prom精品视频在线播放Mr Simón warned that a rise in infections was still possible. “As we gradually permit greater mobility, we could be exposed to imported cases, and all of this must be controlled with great care,” he said.

538prom精品视频在线播放Spain has imposed a two-week quarantine on travellers arriving in the country to prevent imported cases. In response, France has imposed similar conditions on travellers arriving from Spain.

538prom精品视频在线播放The French government is hopeful that by July people will be allowed to travel further from their homes than the current 60-mile limit, but has warned that foreign holidays are unlikely to be possible this summer.

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