Today, the Consultative Committee has discussed the epidemiological situation. An extension of the mandatory use of face masks, the Covid Safe Ticket and teleworking should slow down the increased virus circulation.
Virus circulation has increased considerably in recent weeks, due in part to the higher number of contacts and more indoor activities. An average of 5,300 new infections are recorded every day - an increase of more than 70% compared to last week.
With an average of 115 patients admitted per week, the situation in hospitals remains manageable, but this number has also increased over the past week.
No sector closures or activity restrictions are necessary at this time. However, the epidemiological situation calls for caution and vigilance.
The measures below will take effect on Friday 29 October.
1. Extended mandatory use of face masks
The current requirement to wear a face mask, for example on public transport and in the medical and non-medical contact professions, is extended to a general requirement to wear a face mask in indoor areas of:
- Shops and shopping centres
- Care institutions
- Publicly accessible areas of companies, government buildings, courthouses
- Facilities for cultural, festive, sports, recreational activities, including theatres, concert halls, cinemas, museums, indoor amusement and theme parks, indoor fitness centres and sports centres
- Libraries, game and multimedia libraries
- Places of worship
However, masks are not needed in places where the Covid Safe Ticket is used.
2. Covid Safe Ticket
For public gatherings, the federal government requires the use of the Covid Safe Ticket for indoor events with 200 people or more and outdoor events with 400 people or more. Wearing a face mask is not needed when the Covid Safe Ticket is used.
The federated entities undertake to make the use of the Covid Safe Ticket mandatory throughout the catering industry and fitness centres in Belgium from 1 November. For staff, the face mask requirement will apply from October 29.
Teleworking is strongly recommended for all staff members of companies, associations and service providers, unless this is not possible due to the nature of the business or service.
Encouraging more people to work from home should help reduce the number of contacts in the workplace and on public transport.
4. Testing policy
Testing and contact tracing remain crucial lines of defence. At the same time, an overburdening of general practitioners should be avoided.
The Committee has therefore decided that for the time being the test centres will remain open during the winter period.
Contact tracing capacity is also ensured so that people who test positive for COVID-19 are contacted as soon as possible. The regional authorities are taking all the necessary steps to this end.
5. Third vaccination shot
The Committee asks the Ministers of Public Health to organise the administration of a repeat dose for the general population as soon as it is scientifically proven that it has its place in the vaccination schedule.
6. Pandemic law
The Committee takes note of the federal government’s decision to declare an epidemic emergency for a maximum period of 3 months, and endorses this decision.
The federated entities are free to take any measures that go beyond what has been decided at the federal level.