Belgium’s Consultative Committee met on Friday March 4th and determined that as of Monday, March 7th, the corona barometer will be changed to code yellow. Among the changes to be applicable from that date, the Covid Safe Ticket (CST) will no longer be required, neither to sit in a restaurant nor to go to a show.
Restrictions in the hospitality sector and at events will disappear. The change also implies the end of the epidemic emergency and the national emergency plan that was triggered on March 13, 2020.
As of March 7, the corona barometer will go to code yellow. This means that most of the restrictions disappearAlexander De Croo, Belgium’s Prime Minister
As for the wearing of masks, it remains mandatory in health care facilities and on public transport. It is also recommended, especially in indoor areas, in case of exceptional crowds and in places where the distance of 1.5 meters can not be guaranteed. The wearing of a FFP2 mask is also recommended for people who are weak or immunocompromised. From March 7th, the wearing of masks will no longer be mandatory in education.
2. Rules to travel
De Croo also announced a relaxation of the rules linked to travel. The general obligation to fill in a Passenger Locator Form (PLF) is lifted. The PLF will only be compulsory for people traveling to Belgium with a carrier from a third country that is not on the European Union’s white list, he explained.
People who travel to Belgium and have one of the three Covid certificates (vaccination, recent negative test or recovery) are not subject to any testing or quarantine requirements. If they are not, they will still need to be tested (antigenic or PCR) on day one if they come from a country with an unfavorable situation. Unfavorable countries include countries in dark red on the map of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and third countries that are not on the EU white list.
This rule applies to Belgians or persons who are usually resident in Belgium. The others must be able to present a valid certificate, except in case of a very short stay (less than 48 hours) with transport by their own means. For people coming from countries or regions with a new variant of concern, the current screening and quarantine rules remain unchanged, according to the press release issued after the meeting.
3. Next steps
The Consultative Committee will continue monitoring the epidemiological situation. It refers to five levers that the World Health Organization foresees to counter a possible resurgence of the coronavirus: these include preserving the capacity of genome sequencing to detect new variants quickly, but also continuing to focus on primary vaccination of unaffected and vulnerable groups, as high vaccine coverage remains the main protection against new variants.
The Committee also wants to make antiviral treatments available and affordable as a complement to vaccination. It stressed the importance of promoting air quality through ventilation and filtration in the premises. The country’s authorities also want to promote international solidarity in the donation and production of vaccines to reduce the risk of emergence of new variants of the virus.
Disparities persist between the country’s regions, since in Brussels 46% of the adult population has received its “booster”, against 83.6% in Flanders and 65.8% in Wallonia, according to the Institute of Public Health Sciensano.