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Launch of the Risk Management Strategy: Accountability of Citizens

The National Security Council, expanded to include the Minister-Presidents, met to discuss the work carried out by Celeval, which was asked to develop a longer-term approach to health risk management.

The six golden rules are key to this approach.

As a reminder, they are:

  • Compliance with hygiene measures;
  • Preferably organize activities in open air;
  • Protect vulnerable people;
  • Keep your distance (1m50);
  • Limit your close contacts;
  • Follow the rules on gatherings.

Regarding social contacts, people are allowed to have contact with as many people as they want to, provided they keep their distance at all times and, if this is not possible, wear a mask. In any case, people are not allowed meet more than 10 individuals in the same place at the same time (not including children).

Close contacts with people who are not a member of your household, for more than 15 minutes and without a distance of 1.5 m and without a face mask should be limited as much as possible. As studies show that most people prefer to have a number as a reference, experts advise everyone not to have close contact with more than 5 people (outside of their household) per month at this stage.

Regarding events that are not organised by professionals, gatherings of more than 10 people at the same time and in the same place are not allowed (not including children). Events organised by professionals, on the other hand, if they comply with the rules and protocols that apply to the hospitality industry cover, will have no limit as to the number of attendees, however with a maximum of ten people per table. Dancing is still not be allowed at this stage.

For events with an audience, the current rules will continue to apply until the protocols are changed. The National Security Council has asked Celeval to work with the relevant ministers and the various industries to review these rules in order to give the industries a stable and predictable outlook and allow them to recover while continuing to protect public health.

Regarding face masks, these must still be worn when safety distances cannot be guaranteed. However, as it does not make sense to require the use of a face mask in all circumstances, as of 1 October wearing face masks will no longer be mandatory outdoors, except in very busy areas where safety distance cannot be maintained (as determined by local authorities) and in specific indoor areas such as on public transport, in shops or in cinemas, regardless of how busy they are (see the list in the Ministerial Decree).

Regarding shopping, there is no longer a limit on the number of people (provided social distancing is respected) and the time allowed for shopping.

When it comes to working, working from home is still recommended.

On the basis of these six rules, Celeval’s experts continue to work on an epidemic barometer at the national, regional and provincial level, which will be implemented gradually. This barometer still needs to be developed further. It will operate according to a staggered system: if the situation deteriorates, more restrictive measures must be taken. It will be based mainly, but not only, on the evolution of the number of hospital admissions. The objective is to reach a consensus in the Consultation Committee in two weeks.

With regard to testing, a series of decisions have been taken in this area, namely:

  • To increase the testing capacity of existing triage centres and establishing new screening points. The federated entities are currently working on it;
  • A call-centre will be set up to group all questions in a single point of information and to reduce the burden on general practitioners;
  • To set up a platform to book appointments and dispatch requests to the available centres.
  • To lighten the administrative burden on doctors, a “Corona doctor’s note” will be created in mid-October for certain asymptomatic cases - such as people returning from their holidays, for example;
  • Or patients can be encouraged to consult their test results online, in particular via the Cozo system or masanté.be.

On the subject of tracing, the Coronalert mobile application will be launched on September 30. At the end of this month, a press conference will be held with all the information about the application.

The quarantine has been shortened and simplified:

  • If people present with symptom(s), they should self-isolate immediately for 7 days and contact their doctor to get tested as soon as possible. If the test is positive, they must continue the quarantine and if the test is negative, they can get out of quarantine if their clinical condition allows them to do so.
  • For asymptomatic people who have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive, as soon as they find out about this or are contacted by contact tracing, they should self-isolate for 7 days from the last day of close contact with the infected person. This only in case of close contact with a positive person. They then need to get tested on the 5th day. If the test is positive, the quarantine is extended for another seven days. If the test is negative, the quarantine stops after the 7th day.

For people returning from vacation:

  • As of Friday, going to the red zone will be strongly discouraged and no longer forbidden.
  • Travellers returning from orange zones will no longer be tested.
  • Travellers returning from red zones will have to self-quarantine from the 1st day of their return and will need to be tested on the 5th day. This obligation does not apply if people complete a self-assessment document which, after analysis, authorises them to do so. These instructions do not apply to people who spend less than 48 hours in a red zone, such as cross-border workers.

For couples of different nationalities and/or couples who are living in different countries, the conditions for them meeting up have been relaxed. Starting today, they will have to be able to prove that they have lived together for at least six months (instead of one year), or have a been in a relationship for one year (instead of two, with two encounters instead of three, lasting a total of 20 days instead of 45 days, taking into account visits that were scheduled but had to be cancelled because of Covid), or, as before, that they have a child together.