Lea Lacroix (WMDE)/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0

What are Belgium's new corona restrictions?

From 20 November Belgium is (re)introducing a raft of measures to stem the spread of coronavirus. The consultative committee that groups the various governments and has the final say on restrictions convened at 2:30PM on Wednesday.

Face coverings become mandatory in indoor public spaces: on public transport, in hospitality, at health care centres, at events both indoor and outdoor, in shops and malls, in public buildings and businesses where there is public access, in libraries, at gyms and places of worship.

Down the pub and in restaurants customers will once again have to don a face covering unless they are seated.  You will need to mask as you enter, when you stand up or use the facilities at all hospitality venues. The measure comes in addition to the requirement to show a green Covid Safe Ticket.

At the disco you will have to present your Covid Safe Ticket and take a self-test or don a face covering if you wish to dance.  Cafés where dancing is permitted need to follow the rules for hospitality: face coverings will be required while you dance.

The age at which children are obliged to wear a face covering is being lowered to ten years of age - down from 12. Education ministers will decide the exact modalities of face covering wearing in schools.

The Covid Safe Ticket and face coverings will be required at public and private events for 50 and more people indoors and 100 and more people outdoors, but also in hospitality when you are not seated, in theatres, concert halls, cultural centres, cinemas, museums and indoor amusement arcades.

Four days of homeworking a week become obligatory till 12 December.  After 12 December three days of homeworking a week will be required. Businesses where this is not possible will enjoy an exemption.

The measures will apply till 28 January.

In the next ten days ministers will finalise plans for a booster or third jab to be offered to everybody by the end of March or April. Over 65s and health care workers are first in line. People who received the Janssen vaccine (Johnson & Johnson) or the AstraZeneca vaccine will be next. The booster jab is a dose of Pfizer or Moderna.

Prime Minister Alexander De Croo (Flemish liberal) told a news conference in Brussels that the map of Europe was colouring red as a result of an increase in infections.  He said Belgium wasn’t escaping the new advance of the virus and that measures were needed.  “Fortunately, nine out of ten people are vaccinated and this means that no new lockdown is required.  The vaccine lessens the severity of the illness, but doesn’t rule it out altogether” Mr De Croo said.

He spoke of health care workers, who were tired as they faced yet another wave, and said he understood people were frustrated.  He too would have preferred a winter without corona, but the delta variant was three times more contagious.  The prime minister said an effort from everybody was required and that the most important thing was to reduce contacts.

The premier insisted on four basic rules: limit your contacts as much as possible and meet up outside, keep a physical distance, wear a face covering and ventilate indoor spaces.

 

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