Luxembourgh Times

Government expected to further ease virus restrictions

Ministers plan to discuss next steps for health measures on Wednesday as Covid-19 continues to recede

© Photo credit: Guy Jallay/Luxemburger Wort

With Luxembourg's fight against Covid-19 improving, the government is expected to announce additional easing of restrictions imposed on gatherings and businesses after ministers meet on Wednesday.

"We are heading for a further reopening, that seems evident to me", key government advisor Dr Jean-Claude Schmit told broadcaster RTL on Monday. The head of the National Health Directorate refused to predict which measures the government will propose easing. The law authorising the current combination of restrictions is scheduled to expire on 12 June.

The pandemic is noticeably receding in Luxembourg, the health ministry's latest numbers indicated. The country recorded a 35% drop in both new infections and new hospital admissions between 17 and 23 May compared to the week before, the ministry said last week.

Options for the government to ease restrictions could include allowing restaurants and bars to host more customers and stay open longer. Currently, only four people are allowed to sit together at one table and hospitality businesses must close by 22.00.

However, rapid self-testing at restaurants and bars as a condition for indoor seating is likely to stay, along with a so-called vaccine passport, Schmit said. The passport that the government is expected introduce by mid-June - roughly the same time as the new measures will come into force - is a certificate showing whether a person is vaccinated, has recovered from the disease or tested negative recently.

Hospitality businesses were ordered closed in November in light of rising cases. They were among the last to reopen, beginning five months later when outdoor terraces again began serving customers. Customers who have undergone self-tests have been allowed to eat and drink inside for two weeks.

Hospitality business owners and employees, angry that they remained closed while non-essential retail shops reopened after only a brief shutdown over the year-end holidays, staged several protests in the capital earlier this year demanding the government ease restrictions on their sector.

The government is planning to gradually phase out state aid for the sector now that restaurants and bars are opening again, Lex Delles, the minister for small and medium-sized enterprises, told a parliamentary commission on Monday.