Hair today, gone tomorrow - Belgian barber shops reopen

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Belgium will reopen hairdressers and barber shops on February 13, slackening its lockdown despite the spread of the British coronavirus variant, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said on Friday.

Zoos will also open on February 13, a week after camping sites, in time for the coming carnival holiday in a gesture to Belgians who are blocked from travelling outside the country for non-essential travel.

Belgians have gone more than three months without barber shops or health spas, making big hair and tense shoulders yet another consequence of the pandemic.

The premier said spas and other non-medical contact professions would open on March 1, with all professions under orders to observe very strict precautions.

"We realise that body care plays an important role in how we feel," said De Croo. "This should help us get through the last difficult months," he added.

Belgium has been one of the worst hit countries in the world, by the pandemic, with more than 21,000 dead, representing one of the world's worst per capita death rates.

It however has been able to limit the spread of the more contagious British variant that has shuttered schools in neighbouring the Netherlands and Germany.

"We have always said it... we want stores to remain open, we want schools open, and we don't want curfews at six in the evening," said Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke.