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Consultative Committee: extended use of face masks and mandatory teleworking

Today, the Consultative Committee has discussed the coronavirus situation in our country and has decided on a number of new protective measures. As a result, the extended use of face masks and mandatory teleworking has been imposed. Strict compliance is necessary if we want to avoid a lockdown.

The number of infections, hospital admissions as well as the number of patients in intensive care has almost doubled in the past two weeks.

In order to avoid overloading the healthcare system and to allow education and our economy to continue functioning as normally as possible, the Consultative Committee has decided on a series of protective measures.

1. Social distancing and limiting close contacts

It is crucial that people respect the basic rules allowing us to stop the spread of coronavirus.

More specifically, respecting a safe distance of 1.5 metres and limiting close contacts.

The Consultative Committee strongly recommends that close contacts be kept to a minimum and preferably take place outdoors.

2. Extended face mask requirement

There will be an extended face mask requirement. It will be mandatory to wear a face mask in the following situations:

  • on public transport and on board organised collective transport;
  • in medical and non-medical contact professions;
  • in care settings;
  • in establishments and places where catering activities are carried out;
  • at events, both indoors and out, regardless of the size of the event;
  • in shops and shopping centres;
  • in publicly accessible areas of companies and government buildings;
  • in public buildings and courthouses;
  • in libraries, game and multimedia libraries;
  • in areas accessible to the public of establishments belonging to the cultural, festive, sports, recreational and event sectors;
  • in fitness centres;
  • in places of worship.

Wearing a face mask will be mandatory from the age of 10. In educational settings, communities must decide whether they want to introduce a face mask requirement for children under the age of 12.

Face masks may only be removed occasionally whilst eating and drinking, and when it is impossible to wear one due to the nature of the activity, for instance, whilst exercising.

3. Covid Safe Ticket

The Covid Safe Ticket is proof of full vaccination, of a recent negative PCR test or of a recovery certificate. The ticket allows access to events and catering establishments, for example.

The Consultative Committee has decided that it will be mandatory to wear a face mask at venues and events where the Covid Safe Ticket applies. Therefore, Covid Safe Ticket + face mask.

The Covid Safe Ticket + face mask will be mandatory in the following situations:

  • public events and private gatherings with more than 50 people indoors or more than 100 people outdoors,
  • catering (incl. private gatherings in catering establishments),
  • theatres, concert halls, music halls, cabarets and other performing arts facilities, cultural centres and multi-purpose halls for cultural activities, indoor circuses, cinemas, museums and (indoor) amusement and theme parks.

Night clubs and dance halls not willing to make face masks mandatory, must oblige their visitors to combine the Covid Safe Ticket with a self-test on the spot. Therefore, Covid Safe Ticket + self-test.

4. Mandatory teleworking

Teleworking will be mandatory in the private sector and in all public administrations, unless this is not possible due to the nature of the role or because it would disrupt the continuity of business operations. One return day to the office per staff member per week will be possible. From 13 December, the number of return days to the office will be increased to a maximum of two per member of staff.

This should help reduce the number of contacts, including on public transport. A monthly electronic register must be kept and made available through the social security portal.

5. General additional vaccination

For everyone who has been fully vaccinated, an additional dose or booster shot will be given as soon as possible.

A COVID-19 booster vaccine was already planned for a number of target groups, including the over-65s, people with reduced immunity or those vaccinated with Johnson & Johnson. Now, the rest of the population will also be eligible for a booster shot.

Vaccinations for 5- to 11-year-olds will start as soon as possible, following favourable advice from the Superior Health Council and the Bioethics Committee, after approval by the European Medicines Agency and on a voluntary basis.

6. Ventilation

In order to monitor the air quality in schools and businesses properly, the Consultative Committee has asked the regional Ministers of Education and Labour to generally ramp up the installation of CO2 meters in all rooms of schools and businesses where large numbers of people congregate.

The measures will take effect from 20 November 2021 and are applicable until 28 January 2022. The Consultative Committee will reconvene in early January to evaluate the measures.