Nicolas Maeterlinck

Belgian governments introduce new measures to combat omicron

The consultative committee grouping the country’s various governments, which has the final say on corona measures met today to decide a fresh response to the advance of omicron variant.  The committee agreed a raft of new measures.

The governments have decided to close cinemas, theatres, and concert halls.

All large indoor events and indoor activities in public settings too are banned, though an exception is being made for sports activities and museum and library visits. Professionally organised indoor events for vulnerable groups and the young may still go ahead.

Sports events both indoors and outdoors will take place behind closed doors.

Indoor conferences and indoor Christmas markets are banned as are indoor activities in bowling alleys, escape rooms, paintball venues as well as snooker halls, billiard parlours and places where darts are played. 

People will have to shop in twos at most, but children are not counted.  Only one customer is allowed per ten square metres of shop space. Greater checks will be staged to ensure shopping precincts and Christmas markets don’t get too crowded.

The governments are banning the use of tents at outdoor events too.

Overnight stays during sports or youth camps are banned.

Gyms, swimming pools and wellness centres may stay open.  The rules for hospitality remain unchanged: open till 11PM, no more than six people in a party and masking when not seated.

No restrictions are being set on the number of people you can entertain in your home, but the advice is clear: restrict numbers as much as possible and ensure proper ventilation.

All measures are being introduced from Sunday morning and apply until 28 January. The ministers hope these measures will be sufficient to tackle the rise of omicron and the pressure it is putting on health care.  A new consultative committee is planned at the beginning of January.

Prime Minister De Croo told a news conference the vaccine programme was important but that at important times it needed to be re-enforced by additional measures.  “Omicron is a reason for concern” he said.

“After a year of enormous efforts, we had hoped for a different Christmas, but let’s look back at last Christmas, the restaurants and bars were closed, shops and hairdressers were shut, and virtually we couldn’t see anybody. This year it will be possible. We will celebrate Christmas together.  But do it with the greatest possible caution: limit the number of people, do a self-test, and ventilate well.


Defending the decision to close cultural venues the premier said it was important to take clear and stable decisions. Mr De Croo insisted there was a difference with outdoor Christmas markets that may stay open under strict rules: “The lesson we have learned is that indoor activities are far more dangerous than outdoor ones.  If we want to meet up, it’s better to do it outdoors rather than indoors”.


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