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On-site workers to be tested twice a week

PM Alexander De Croo (Flemish liberal) has confirmed that employees in businesses where homeworking is virtually impossible will be tested for coronavirus twice a week soon using rapid testing kits.

The Belgian leader called for workers to comply with home-working obligations adding this was one of the keys to maintaining control of the situation.

Mobility figures compiled e.g. using gsm data anonymously suggest fewer people are working from home.

In some companies where physical labour is the norm homeworking isn’t an option.  Outbreaks have been recorded in several such businesses in recent months.  In order to prevent repeats rapid testing of workers will be introduced. The tests will be carried out by occupational medicine services. By next week the corona commissioner’s office should have decided how the tests will be organised.  A start date still has to be agreed.

Mr De Croo was speaking after meeting Belgian employers.  The employers aren’t ready to concede there is a problem with sticking to homeworking.  “Mobility has risen” said Pieter Timmermans of VBO “because more people are at work and fewer people have signed on for temporary unemployment.”

Employers say employees should be given the prospect of light and the end of the tunnel and favour the introduction of ‘return days’ allowing workers to attend their place of work one day a week or two half days a fortnight.

“This will allow workers, who have been working from home for a year, to see colleagues.  We notice more and more workers facing mental collapse” said Timmermans.

The Belgian government believes it’s too early for relaxations, though admits it’s hard to persevere.

Relaxations become possible if corona data head in the right direction.  ‘Return Days’ may be possible after the Easter break! 

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