The extension of the Covid Safe Ticket (CST) will be mandatory in Brussels on October 1st for a whole series of sectors, such as the hotel and catering industry, nightclubs and sports halls. The CST is delivered to any person who has received the two doses of the vaccine, who has performed a negative PCR test during the last 48 hours or who can provide a certificate attesting that he/she has recently contracted the coronavirus.
Following Belgium’s Consultative Committee Meeting on Friday, September 17th, the use of face mask in the hospitality sector and shops will be lifted. The new ruling applies for both clients and staff. Prime Minister De Croo cited the high number of vaccinated people among the adult population as a rationale behind this move.
8.5 million people in Belgium have received their first vaccination, and 84% of the adults in our country have been fully vaccinated. This puts us at the top in Europe, and we should be proud of thatAlexander De Croo, Belgium’s Prime Minister
Given that each region can decide to implement stricter measures, masks will remain compulsory in shops and the hospitality industry in the Brussels-Capital Region, announced Minister-President Rudi Vervoort. Also, the CST will be required in the sports and hospitality sectors. This is in part linked to the low level of vaccinated people in Brussels. “Half of the population there is still not vaccinated,” said De Croo. “We are seeing that the Covid patients are younger, and usually not vaccinated. This is becoming an epidemic of the un-vaccinated.”
Masks will remain mandatory on public transport and in stations, in healthcare institutions. Also for “contact professions” such as hairdressers. Events with more than 500 people indoors and 750 people outdoors without a Covid Safe Ticket (CST), face masks also remain mandatory. Nightclubs and discos will be allowed to reopen from 1 October as well, provided they work with the CST.
The extension of the CST aims at curbing the progression of new contagions, especially in Brussels, where the vaccination rate is at its lowest compared to other regions. For example, only 18% of 12-17 year olds are fully vaccinated, compared to 69% in Flanders and 51% in Wallonia. The potential obligation of using the CST has been not to everyone’s taste, with some denouncing a violation of fundamental freedoms. Roughly 3,500 people gathered in Brussels last weekend to demonstrate against the measure. These protests echo movements that are currently taking place in France, where the health pass is already mandatory.
For Sophie Wilmès, former Prime Minister, this is a response to the failure of the vaccination strategy: “Compared to the rest of the country, Brussels is lagging behind enormously,” she said in an interview on Friday, September 10th. According to her, from the moment the Covid Safe Ticket is used to introduce an obligation to vaccinate, there is a breach of the contract of trust with the population. She recalled that originally, vaccination has been presented as a voluntary action.
We will have to demonstrate that the operation is targeted, necessary and effective. That is to say, that it does decrease the circulation of the virus and that it can only be decreased in this waySophie Wilmès, former Prime Minister of Belgium
Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke said last week to news channel VRT that it was normal to restrict the freedoms of non-vaccinated people in order to protect society. Wilmès raised questions regarding what would happen in the future. “What scares me is that they will say ‘either we go to sanitary pass, or we prevent sectors from opening, or we close them’, and obviously we will never be on the side of closure,” she said.
Fabian Hermans, administrator of the Horeca Brussels federation, has stated that the hospitality sector does not have the staff to carry out the checks. The federation is not radically for or against the “health pass”, but it is opposed to any questioning of establishment owners. It therefore advocates an “Italian-style” system, based on the good faith of the client. For his part, the Minister-President of Brussels, Rudy Vervoort, said that if the CST is to be introduced, it would be up to the Horeca operators to control the customers when they arrive in their establishment.
The Belgian government has also confirmed that from October 1st, the CST will be required for a maximum period of 3 months, for anyone over 16 years of age in order to access any sports or fitness club. Individuals will have to present your CST when entering any fitness club. “Our mission is to contribute to our members’ health, by encouraging them to lead an active lifestyle which directly strengthens their immunity. To do this, we will continue to adhere to the Government’s guidelines in order to ensure the safety of members and staff,” said Flavien Chambaud, general manager of Aspria Arts-Loi, in a statement.
September was the first month in which the sector could, perhaps, get its head above water. We will adapt and get through this because what is essential for our sector is not to close. To have to close again would be a monumental catastropheStéphane Rutté, President of Sport is Essential, the Brussels fitness federation
The Brussels Health Minister, Alain Maron, said that all the documents are being prepared to expand the Covid Safe Ticket if necessary, but “questions remain on the sectors that will be concerned. And for this expansion, questions of practicality, efficiency and opportunity must be answered. There is a dialogue with the sectors and we are observing the figures as to the situation in hospitals, vaccination figures, contamination etc.”