The Consultative Committee on 17 November discussed the COVID-19 situation in Belgium and agreed a series of new protective measures. The obligation to wear a mask has been extended and teleworking made obligatory. The new rules follow the doubling of the number of infections, hospitalizations and intensive care patients in the past two weeks.
To avoid congestion in the health care system and to allow education and the economy to function as normally as possible, the Concertation Committee has taken several protective measures outlined below. The measures will enter into force on 20 November 2021 and will be applicable until 28 January 2022. The Consultation Committee will meet in early January to reassess the situation.
1. Safety distance and limitation of social contact
It is absolutely essential that citizens obey the ground rules, which help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. These include respecting the safety distance of 1.5 meters and limiting the number of social contacts made.
The Concertation Committee strongly recommends limiting social contacts as much as possible and preferably organizing these contacts outside.
2. Wearing of the compulsory extended mask
The Consultative Committee has decided to generalize the wearing of a mask, which will now be compulsory in the following situations across the country:
in closed spaces of public transport and organized collective transport;
for the medical and non-medical professions;
in health care establishments;
in establishments and places where catering activities are organized;
in the context of events, both indoors and outdoors and regardless of the size of the event;
in stores and shopping centres;
in spaces accessible to the public of companies and public administrations;
in public buildings and courts;
in libraries, game libraries and media libraries;
in spaces accessible to the public of establishments belonging to the cultural, festive, sporting, recreational and events sectors;
in fitness centres;
in places of worship.
Wearing a mask is compulsory from 10 years old. In education, communities will decide whether or not to introduce compulsory mask wearing for children under 12.
The mask can only be removed occasionally for sitting, eating and drinking, and when wearing a mask is not possible due to the nature of the activity, such as during sporting activities.
3. Covid Safe Ticket +
The Covid Safe Ticket is proof of full vaccination, obtaining a negative PCR test, or certification of recovery. For example, it gives access to events and catering establishments.
The Concertation Committee decided that in places or during events where the Covid Safe Ticket is applicable, the wearing of a mask is also compulsory. The Covid Safe Ticket and the wearing of a mask are therefore both required.
The Covid Safe Ticket and the wearing of a mask are compulsory in the following situations:
for public events and private meetings with more than 50 people indoors or more than 100 people outdoors;
in catering establishments (including private events that take place there);
in theaters, concert halls, music halls, cabarets and other performance halls, multipurpose halls that host cultural activities, indoor circuses, cinemas, museums and amusement parks and other theme parks (interiors).
Nightclubs and dance halls that do not want to impose the wearing of masks are obliged to ask their customers to present the Covid Safe Ticket and to carry out a self-test on site, i.e., both Covid Safe Ticket and self-test.
4. Compulsory teleworking
Teleworking will be compulsory in the private sector and in all public administrations, unless the nature of the function or the continuity of activities does not allow it. One day's presence at work per staff member is authorized per week. As of December 13, the number of return-to-work days will be increased to a maximum of two per staff member per week.
This measure should help reduce the number of contacts, especially on public transport.
An electronic monthly register should be kept by organisations and made available through the social security portal.
5. Generalization of the booster vaccine
All fully vaccinated citizens will soon have the opportunity to receive an additional booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine.
Several target groups - including people over 65, people immunocompromised or vaccinated with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine - have already had the opportunity to receive this additional dose. Now it is the turn of the rest of the population.
The vaccination campaign for children aged 5 to 11 will be launched as soon as possible, upon receipt of a favourable opinion from the Higher Health Council and the Bioethics Advisory Committee, and after approval by the European Medicines Agency. This vaccination will be available on a voluntary basis.
In order to properly monitor the air quality in schools and businesses, the Consultative Committee asks the regional ministers of Education and Labour to ensure that CO2 meters are installed quickly and generally in all school and business premises where large numbers of people congregate.