Those flouting CO₂ concentration rules are not being sanctioned: "We’re in a transitional phase”, says Health Minister

Since 9 June all hospitality outlets (bars, cafés, restaurants) and gyms have been legally obliged to install a CO₂ meter. The measure is designed to ensure that there is sufficient ventilation an as such is designed to curb the spread of coronavirus. Since the measure came into force just over three and a half months ago 2,500 checks have been carried out in bars, restaurants and cafés. 

Meanwhile, just two checks have been carried out at gyms. None of those found to be flouting the rule on CO₂ meters have been sanctioned. The figures appear in Tuesday’s edition of the daily ‘De Standaard’. In a reaction the Federal Health Minister told VRT Radio 1’s morning news and current affairs programme ‘De ochtend’ that “We’re currently in a transitional phase”.

Since 9 June hospitality outlets and gyms have been legally obliged to instal a CO₂ meter. The meter must be installed somewhere that is clearly visible and not near to a window or door. In the meter gives a reading in excess of 900 ppm those responsible for the hospitality outlet or gym must take action to reduce the concentration of CO₂. If concentrations exceed 1,200 ppm the gym, café, bar or restaurant must be cleared of customers and closed.

‘De Standaard’ reports that between 9 June and 21 September more than 2,490 hospitality outlets were checked. 889 of them were found to be in breach of the CO₂ meter rule. Many of these didn’t have a CO₂ meter at all. Others had meters that were not functioning correctly. None of the 889 bars, cafés and restaurant found to be in breach of the rule were forced to close. During the same period just two gyms were checked by CO₂ meter inspectors. One of these was found to be in breach of the rules. 

At the last meeting of the Consultative Committee that is made up of representatives of Belgium’s federal, regional and language community governments it was decided to that more emphasis will be placed on the installation of CO₂ meters as a means of curbing the spread of coronavirus.

Speaking on VRT Radio 1, the Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke (Flemish socialist) reaffirmed the importance of measures on air quality in our efforts to curb the spread of coronavirus. He added that the federal, regional and language community government have all agreed to strictly enforce the rules on CO₂ meters and “The days that everyone could do what they felt like are over”.

As regards the checks, the health minister told the VRT that checks on CO₂ in hospitality outlets are carried out by the Federal Health Department, while the Federal Economy Department is responsible for carrying out checks at gyms. “I have indeed heard that the Economy Department is less strict when it comes to carrying out checks”, Mr Vandenbroucke said. He added that he would ask the Federal Economy Minister to address this. 

New rules from 1 October

Although a ministerial decree on the issue has still to be published, from 1 October CO₂ meters will become mandatory in discotheques, bars where dancing is allowed. Events halls and sports halls too must ensure that they abide by the rules on air quality.

From 1 October, they will no longer be obliged to close if CO₂ concentrations exceed 1,200 ppm. However, they will still have to be able to present an action plan containing measures to be taken if concentrations exceed 900 ppm. Ventilation and disinfection will play an important role here. 

Top stories