Following the Belgian National Security Council meeting on Wednesday 23 September a number of new or revised measures were announced by Prime Minister, Sophie Wilmès including the launch of the risk management strategy: citizen empowerment.
The six 'golden rules' continue to apply and remain central to the strategy. They are:
Follow the hygiene rules;
Organise your activities preferably outside;
Protect vulnerable people;
Keep a 1.5m distance (and wear a mask where this is not possible);
Limit your close contacts; and
Follow rules on gatherings.
The 5-person contact bubble concept disappears as of 1 October. Instead of the bubble, there will be a “reference figure” that will vary between 1 and 5, depending on the health situation. At the moment, experts recommend a maximum of 5 close contacts per person per month, but the number must be limited as much as possible. Close contact means being physically close to someone who does not live under the same roof, for more than 15 minutes, without keeping a distance and without a facemask.
Apart from those close contacts, people can see as many people as they want, if they keep their distance and respect the hygiene rules (If you can't keep 1.5m distance, wear a mask).
It is still not allowed to see more than 10 people in the same place, at the same time (children not included in the 10).
There will be an epidemic barometer system at national, regional and provincial level so that decisions can be taken quickly if the situation improves or deteriorates. This will also offer more perspective in the long term. It will work in the form of stages, which will be determined mainly – but not exclusively – by the number of people admitted to hospital. The development of the barometer is not finished yet, but is expected in two weeks’ time. It will be implemented gradually.
For gatherings, a difference is made between private and professional gatherings.
For private gatherings, the maximum number of guests remains at 10.
Professionally organised events, such as receptions or weddings, will follow the same rules as the hospitality industry as of 1 October. There will be no limit on the maximum number of guests allowed, as it will depend on the capacity of the place. The protocols must still be followed, and dance parties are still not allowed.
For events with an audience, the limit remains at 200 for indoor and 400 outdoor events.
Telework - Working from home
Telework remains recommended, if possible
From October 1, the quarantine will be shortened from 14 to 7 days and a new quarantine system will apply.
If you have symptoms of COVID you should contact your doctor and isolate yourself immediately for 7 days. You will need to take a test as soon as possible.
- If the test is positive: the quarantine continues.
- If the test is negative: as soon as your clinical situation allows it, you can be released from quarantine.
If you have no symptoms but have had close contact with a positive person.
- As soon as you learn about it or are contacted by contact tracing, you must immediately quarantine yourself for 7 days, from the last day on which you had close contact with the infected person. It is important to only quarantine yourself when you have had close contact with the positive person.
- You make an appointment to take a single test on the 5th day.
- If this test is positive: your quarantine is extended for 7 days.
- If this test is negative: you should no longer be in quarantine after the 7th day.
These rules show that keeping your distance is imperative to avoiding unnecessary quarantine if you are symptom-free.
From this Friday, September 25, going to "orange zones" and "red zones will be strongly discouraged, but no longer prohibited in order to establish harmonised rules with other European countries.
When you come back from an "orange zone", a COVID test will not be mandatory.
Travellers returning from a "red zone" will have to quarantine themselves from the first day of their return (for 7 days) and take a test on day 5. They can avoid this obligation if they complete a self-assessment document, which, after analysis, would authorise them to do so.
These instructions do not apply to people who stay less than 48 hours in a red zone (for example: cross-border workers).
As of October 1, the mask will no longer be compulsory outdoors except in extremely busy places, where safety distances cannot be respected. These places are determined by the local authorities. A mask is still compulsory in well-defined covered places such as public transport, shops or cinemas for example; regardless of their level of attendance. Wearing a mask is also compulsory when distances cannot be guaranteed.
The Coronalert smartphone app will be launched on September 30. A press conference at the end of the month will give more information on the initiative.