On Friday February 5th, the Belgian Prime Minister along with Federal Ministers, Minister-Presidents of the Regions and Communities, gathered for the Consultative Committee meeting and determined that hairdressers would be allowed to practice again, starting February 13. Real estate agencies can organize visits from this date on, too. Other professions involving contact must wait until March 1st. Zoo parks will open on February 13, and camping sites on February 8.
The Consultative Committee declared that caring for the body undeniably contributes to improving the mental well-being of citizens. “We therefore call for a progressive opening of hair salons, which may reopen on February 13 in strict compliance with protocols. Other non-medical contact professions (specifically beauty salons, including non-automated sunbeds), non-medical pedicure institutes, nail salons, massage parlors, barber shops and tattoo and piercing salons will be allowed to reopen on March 1″.
Current health situation
The overall positivity rate (PR) remains stable; the reproduction rate (Rt) based on the number of new infections is 1.031, an increase from the Committee held on January 22nd (0.974), particularly given the increasing number of tests and the higher proportion of infections among young people; the average number of hospitalizations per day is decreasing (from 125.4 to 121). 306 intensive care beds are being used, down from the previous week (323); the reproduction rate (Rt) based on the number of new hospitalizations is 1.008, down from the Committee held on January 8th (1.044); the average number of deaths per day decreased from 51.4 to 40.7.
Noting that the vaccination campaign has started, the Consultative Committee considers the epidemiological situation to be “mixed”.
The Committee specified the conditions under which hairdressers, in the first instance, will be able to operate: “No time limit must be set for the duration of the treatment; treatments of several people at the same time (for example in pairs) by the same employee are permitted, provided that the surface area of the room allows it and provided that the sanitary rules in force are respected.”
In addition, “professionals in non-medical contact professions must wear European-approved surgical masks. Masks must be worn correctly and replaced when visibly soiled, damaged or wet. In any case, they must be replaced after 4 hours of intensive use (e.g. if a lot of talking has taken place) or after 8 hours at the latest.”
As for the provision of services at home, they remain prohibited for non-medical “contact professions”. The Committee gave its green light to real estate agencies so that their agents can organize visits, starting February 13.
Vacation homes in vacation villages, bungalow parks and campsites may reopen from February 8 under the same conditions as other types of accommodation, i.e. excluding their restaurants, bars and other common facilities, and with strict observance of protocols.
Stressing the importance of testing operations, which must be stepped up (airports, seaports, train and bus stations must be equipped with the necessary means for testing and ensure the digital recording of tests carried out on site), the Committee specified that the testing is mandatory for travelers coming from a red zone, currently from the age of 12, is extended to all children aged 6 and over. This applies both to the negative pre-entry test for non-residents and to the post-arrival test(s) for residents and non-residents.
The Committee confirmed that the progressive reduction of the current limitations on social contacts, as well as in relation to the further opening up of economic, sporting, cultural, event and youth activities, will be “adapted according to epidemiological developments and the progress of vaccinations”.