On Wednesday November 18th, Belgium’s Consultative Committee decided to implement new restrictive measure to try to control the rapid increase of Covid-19 seen across the country. Some of the new rules announced by Prime Minister Alexander De Croo include the generalized use of face masks for any aged 10 or older, mandatory telework at least four days a week, use of Covid Safe Ticket is required in gatherings of 50 people indoors and 100 outdoors, among others.
The alarm signals are in the red. We see that we have a huge number of infections in our country and the number of occupied beds has doubled in a fortnight.Alexander De Croo, Belgium’s Prime Minister
The Prime Minister insisted that the variation of Covid-19 we are encountering these days is three times more contagious than the form encountered last winter. “We have taken very broad measures, we want to prevent and protect rather than confine,” he said. ”Thanks to the effort of all those who are vaccinated, we do not find ourselves in a lockdown. We are also seeing in hospitals that the vaccinated people who end up in the hospital are older or have a pathology that decreases their immune system”.
We will take very broad measures. We want to avoid confinement, so we’re all going to take responsibility. I know that many people are tired, especially those who work in the health care sector.Alexander De Croo, Belgium’s Prime Minister
1. Use of mask
The use of mask is now required in all closed places, public transport, and also for places subject to the CST (in the hotel and catering industry, except for people sitting at tables). The compulsory age for wearing a mask has been reduced from 12 to 10 years old, but not at school. Each region is free to go further and impose the mask in the classes, by age group or by year of study. The mask is also now required in cultural places, including cinemas and theaters.
2. Covid Safe Ticket
The use of the Covid Safe Ticket will also be expanded. It will be mandatory, along with the mask, for all mass events, including Christmas markets, as well as for the entire cultural and recreational sector (theaters, concert halls, cultural centers, cinemas, museums, amusement parks).
The thresholds have been revised downwards for private parties. The Covid Safe Ticket will be required for 50 people or more indoors (currently 500) and outside from 100 people (currently 750). These thresholds can be modified if the mask is worn. For public events, 50 indoors and 100 outdoors will be the norm. The regions will also be able to impose the CST in the cultural places, in addition to the mask which is reintroduced there, cinemas included.
Telecommuting goes from being recommended to mandatory starting next Monday, November 22nd. It become mandatory four days a week until December 13th (unless the job does not allow it), then three days, with registration on the NSS website for employers to allow controls.
4. Mandatory vaccination
The Consultative Committee did not reach an agreement on mandatory vaccination. Compulsory vaccination for health care personnel is considered to be a given. The Corona Commission is charged with studying “all avenues to achieve maximum vaccination coverage” (legal, ethical, societal aspects, etc.).
Discotheques will not be closed as previously planned, but the precautionary measures are reinforced. In addition to the Covid Safe Ticket, a self-test will be required at the entrance of the establishment, or else dancing with the mask on will be required.
6. Third dose of vaccine
By November 24th, the CIM Santé will have to develop an operational plan to ensure that every citizen can receive an additional dose “as soon as possible”. Vaccination centers will therefore remain operational. Pharmacies, school and occupational medicine staff will be called for assistance in its deployment.