Schools to remain open, face coverings for all children from the age of 6

The Consultative Committee that is made up of Belgium's federal, regional and language community governments has met again to discuss additional measures to help curb the spread of coronavirus. The meeting that got under way at 9am and lasted more than 5 hours came just a week after the last Consultative Committee meeting. However, given the severity of the fourth wave and the situation on the country’s intensive care wards there was broad consensus that additional measures were required. 

However, what those measures should be was the source of lengthy discussions. The Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke (Flemish socialist) had wanted primary schools to be closed for two weeks. However, the education ministers in the three language community governments were vehemently opposed to this. 

In the end it was agreed that primary and nursery schools won’t be closing. Instead, it was decided that the Christmas holidays that were due to start on Christmas Eve will be extended by 1 week. Now children in primary education will start their school holiday on the evening of Friday 17 December and will return to school on the morning of Monday 10 January. Secondary school pupils will still have to attended classes during the week from 20 to 24 December. However, they will will be taught no more than 50% face-to-face until the end of term. The exams will take place as planned.

Children from the age of 6 will now be obliged to wear face coverings at school. Currently the rule on face coverings only applies to children from the age of 10. The rules on mandatory face coverings for children from the age of 6 will also apply to them in all other places (public transport, shops, etc) where the rule currently applies to everyone from the age of 10.

CO2 meters will be mandatory in all classrooms from Monday. Action must be taken (open windows and/or doors) if CO2 concentrations in a classroom exceed 900 ppm. The classroom should be vacated if concentrations exceed 1,200 ppm.

For the rest of term classes will be put into quarantine if there have been more than two confirmed infections during the past 7 days.

All activities that take place outside school, for example school trips, have been banned. 

Events and free time activities

All indoor events with more than 4,000 participants this coming weekend.

From Monday 6 December the maximum number of people allowed at an indoor event will be 200. This means that cinemas, and theatres may remain open on the conditions that there are fewer than 200 people present, everyone remains seated and that face coverings are worn at all times. A CST (Corona pass) will also be required.

Museums will also be able to remain open under the rules that are currently in force. 

No change for hospitality

The rules for the hospitality industry remain unchanged. Face coverings must be worn at all times except when you are not seated. A CST will be required from those wishing to entera bar, café or restaurant. All bars pubs and restaurants must remain closed between 11pm and 5am.

Social contacts

No limit has been placed on the number of people we are allowed to welcome into our homes. People are being relied on to use their common sense and to limit their social contacts. During the press conference that followed Friday’s meeting, the Federal Prime Minister Alexander De Croo (Flemish liberal) said that that very many people had followed the recommendation to buy self-testing kits that are now also available in supermarkets.

 

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