Belgium’s Consultative Committee met on Tuesday, October 26, and Prime Minister Alexander De Croo announced that masks will again be mandatory inside shops and other indoor public spaces. Rules for the use of the Covid Safe Ticket (CST) will also become the norm across the country, and teleworking will be highly recommended.
Nobody can ignore the numbers. We are seeing an autumn wave after a plateau. Last week there was a 70% increase in terms of infections.Alexander De Croo, Belgium’s Prime Minister
The committee noted that since mid-October the key indicators are not very positive. The average number of new infections per day: 5,300, which represents an increase of more than 70% compared to last week; the number of daily hospitalizations: weekly average of 115, which represents an increase of more than 50% compared to last week; the number of patients in intensive care: 264 beds occupied by Covid-19 patients, up 14% from last week; positivity rate: 8.5% (up from 6.6% a week ago), and a reproduction rate of 1.455 (up from 1.298 a week ago).
According to the committee, this upward may be explained by the resumption of school and work, increased indoor activity due to changing weather conditions, and close contact among people. For the time being, there won’t be any activity restrictions.
A slight positive note for some is that vaccination is progressing: 92.3% (it was 92% a month ago) of people over 65 years and 74.1% (against 72.8% a month ago) of the total population are meanwhile fully vaccinated. The committee underlined that the scientific evidence indicates that vaccination provides approximately 70% protection against infection and 90% protection against hospitalization.
Recent data clearly show the effect of vaccination, with a greatly reduced incidence in vaccinated persons. It is therefore very important to fully vaccinate as much of the population as possible.Belgium’s Consultative Committee
The safety measures remain the same. The use of an air quality (CO2) measuring device in catering and drinking establishments of the hospitality and sports sector. Private gatherings: 500 indoors and 750 outdoors. For mass events, as far as the Covid Safe Ticket is concerned, the current minimum thresholds of 500 people inside and 750 people outside are lowered to 200 inside and 400 outside. The CST is now mandatory in the hotel and catering industry in Flanders as well.
Wearing a mask is compulsory in enclosed spaces of public transport and organized collective transport, for medical and non-medical contact professions and during events. Its use is compulsory in the hotel and catering industry, in stores and shopping centers, in health care institutions, in premises accessible to the public of companies, administrations and public and legal buildings, in libraries, toy and media libraries, in premises accessible to the public of establishments belonging to the cultural, festive, sports, recreational and event sectors, in buildings of worship and buildings intended for the public exercise of non-confessional moral assistance. The use the of the CST remains a requirement in discotheques and dance halls.
Teleworking is not mandatory at this time but strongly recommended in all companies associations and services for all staff members, unless it is impossible due to the nature of the function, the continuity of the management of the company, its activities or its services.
The management of the health situation in Belgium is now being handled with a federal approach, which means the measures are now taken under the shield of the “pandemic law”, instead of by successive ministerial orders. The measures will be implemented for a duration of three months, and the next consultative committee will be held on November 19th.