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Consultative Committee: Many restrictions will be lifted from 1 September

Today, the Consultative Committee has discussed the epidemiological situation in our country at length. Given that the Summer Plan objectives have been met according to plan, several restrictions will be lifted from 1 September. In addition, extra efforts should be made to reach at least the 70% threshold of vaccinations in all municipalities of our country, as a stepping stone towards full vaccination of the population.

The Consultative Committee has seen a slow but steady increase in the number of infections. The COVID-19 Commissariat, however, confirms that the situation is and remains manageable, particularly in hospitals. This is as a result of the successful vaccination campaign. More than 90% of the over-65s and vulnerable people in our country are fully vaccinated and almost 70% of the total population has been vaccinated. Belgium is therefore one of the best-performing vaccination countries in the European Union and the world.

Next step in Summer Plan

As the target of 70% vaccination coverage of adults has been reached, the Consultative Committee has decided to proceed with the next step of the Summer Plan from 1 September.

This includes:

  1. Gatherings in private spaces: No more restrictions on gatherings at home or in tourist accommodation.
  2. Teleworking: The Consultative Committee encourages companies to structurally embed teleworking.
  3. Professional hospitality activities: No more restrictions on opening and closing hours (including the provision of services at home), on the number of people per table, on the distance between table groups, on terraces, on noise levels and on bar service. The requirement to provide table seating only will also be dropped. When moving around within a catering establishment, wearing a face mask will remain mandatory. Night clubs and dance halls will be able to reopen from 1 October with stipulations for stricter protocols on air quality, ventilation and a maximum capacity in relation to the surface area. From 1 October, dancing in pubs will be allowed again. The federated entities can always decide to apply these stipulations more strictly.
  4. Organised activities: No more restrictions for activities in an organised context, in particular those organised by a club or association.
  5. Private parties: No more restrictions on buffets and dancing during private parties, in particular weddings.
  6. Religious worship: No more restrictions on civil marriages, on funerals, on the individual and collective practice of non-denominational moral services within a philosophical association, on individually or collectively visiting places of worship or buildings intended for non-denominational moral services. Wearing a face mask will remain mandatory.
  7. Event sector and Covid Safe Ticket: No more restrictions on indoor events with less than 200 spectators and outdoor events with less than 400 spectators, unless the competent local authority decides otherwise. Indoor events with more than 200 spectators or outdoor events with more than 400 spectators will be able to use the Covid Safe Ticket from 1 September onwards. In this case only, it will no longer be mandatory to wear a face mask, to keep a social distance or to use the CIRM/CERM. From 1 October, this threshold will at least be raised to indoor events with 500 spectators and outdoor events with 750 spectators. As a result of the lower vaccination rate in a number of municipalities in the Brussels-Capital Region, the Government of the Brussels-Capital Region has indicated that it will not be lifting certain restrictions as of 1 September, in particular those relating to the hospitality sector and teleworking.

Face masks and social distancing remain mandatory

Wearing a face mask and keeping a distance of at least 1.5 metres remain important tools to prevent the spread of the virus.

As such, wearing a face mask remains compulsory in a range of situations, including on public transport and in railway stations, in shops and shopping centres, when moving around in catering establishments, in conference halls, trade fairs, auditoriums, places of worship, court buildings, libraries and during demonstrations. Wearing a face mask also remains mandatory in private or public crowded places, such as shopping streets, year markets and funfairs, as determined by the competent local authority;

As of 1 September, wearing a face mask will no longer be mandatory in publicly accessible areas of companies, public administrations or associations and in the cultural, festive, sports, recreational and events sectors for events and private parties with less than 200 spectators indoors and 400 spectators outdoors, unless the local authority decides otherwise.

Mandatory vaccination of healthcare workers

Given the crucial role of healthcare workers in combating COVID-19 and the need to maximise patient protection, the Consultative Committee has requested to explore under which conditions full vaccination of all healthcare workers, including self-employed workers, both in the ambulatory care sector as in healthcare institutions, can be made mandatory.

The Public Health Ministers have also been asked to publish the vaccination coverage of healthcare workers per health care institution as soon as possible.

Additional efforts for full vaccination

Full vaccination remains the main answer to the epidemiological evolution.

In order to reduce the virus circulation and hospital burden, the minimum target of 70% full vaccination coverage should be reached in all municipalities of the country, as an intermediate step towards full vaccination of the population.

In a number of municipalities, the vaccination coverage remains below that level. This is the case in the three regions, but especially in the Brussels-Capital Region.

The Consultative Committee therefore supports the intention of the Government of the Brussels-Capital Region to organise specific actions to raise awareness and to bring vaccination closer to the place of residence and work, including door-to-door initiatives. The Brussels-Capital Region also continues to strongly encourage teleworking.

Federated entities with municipalities where the epidemiological or vaccination situation demands it, also have the option to provide the Covid Safe Ticket for activities other than events.

Preparation of post-federal phase

The COVID-19 Commissariat and the National Crisis Center have been asked to prepare a comprehensive report on how to organise the possible end of the federal phase and the post-federal phase. It has also extended the mandate of the COVID-19 Commissariat by six months, among others, to enable the end of the federal phase and to ensure the smooth transfer of tasks.