Prime Minister Sophie Wilmes said the lockdown will now be lifted in three stages though she warned if there is a flare up in case, restrictions will be tightened again.

“This is not definitive. We can never rule out the possibility that we will have to take a step back if the virus flares up again,” Wilmes said.

After May 4, hospitals will progressively open to some non-essential tasks and some shops – including haberdashers – also will be allowed to reopen.

Some sport will be allowed from that day, with Belgians free to play tennis, kayak and go fishing.

A week later, most shops will be given the green light to reopen at the same time, though close-contact professions like barbers will have to wait another week.