Today, the federal government and the federated entities convened the Consultative Committee to discuss the current coronavirus situation. The Consultative Committee believes that we must remain cautious and, in the first instance, would like to give priority to education, youth and outdoor activities.
Outdoor activities have a significantly lower virological risk. Allowing people to exercise outdoors in slightly larger groups promotes solidarity between people - a basic need which has been under great pressure due to the pandemic. This is particularly important for young people.
More people outside
- As from 8 March, groups of 10 people can meet outside. It remains important to keep a distance of 1.5 metres.
- From 8 March onwards, it will be possible to attend a funeral inside with a maximum of 50 people and a maximum of 1 person per 10 square metres.
Priority for young people and education
- From 8 March, organised outdoor activities (sports and others) are allowed: for children (under the age of 13) with a maximum of 10 indoors or 25 outdoors; for young people (under the age of 19) with a maximum of 10 outdoors.
The audience at sports training sessions is limited to one person per child.
- From 15 March onwards, additional extracurricular activities of up to 1 day in primary and secondary schools will be allowed again.
- From 15 March onwards, vulnerable groups with special educational needs and part-time vocational education canresume classes in person.
- From 15 March onwards, students in higher education can attend a maximum of 20% of the classes in person.
In addition, as from 8 March, the Ministerial Order will also allow photographers to receive customers living under the same roof (a maximum of 1 customer per 10 square metres). The reopening of private saunas is also permitted for use by people living under the same roof. Jacuzzis, steam rooms and hammams are not accessible.
As far as the epidemiological situation allows, and depending on the pressure on hospitals and the progress of the vaccination campaign, an outdoor plan will be implemented from April onwards which will allow for the following activities to be carried out:
- Organised outdoor activities for everyone (from sports and other associations, including sports training): a maximum of 10 people. The audience at sports training sessions will be limited to one individual per person under the age of 19;
- Culture, events and religious services: a maximum of 50 people, provided that social distancing rules are respected and face masks are worn;
- Amusement parks;
- Primary and secondary education: after the Easter holidays, every day in the classroom.
The Consultative Committee has also decided that activities organised during the Easter holidays with overnight stays for children and young people up to the age of 18 are allowed, provided that the group is not larger than 25 people, not including supervisors. Camps can only take place if all participants are tested before the start and at the end of the camp.
Scaling up rapid testing
As far as the epidemiological situation allows, and depending on the pressure on hospitals and the progress of the vaccination campaign, and subject to the use of rapid tests, further outdoor and indoor activities will be possible from 1 May onwards. These include social contacts, indoor and outdoor catering, shopping and itinerant activities, culture and events, youth work, club life and sport, religious services, home care and funfairs.
Rapid testing can play an important role in this. To this end, a flexible legal framework should be developed to make antigen tests generally available in the near future.
The Group of Experts for the COVID-19 Management Strategy (GEMS) has been asked to draw up a more detailed plan of action to ensure that future steps are safe. This plan should focus, among others, on ventilation and the role that CO2 meters can play in restarting indoor activities.
Rules for non-essential travel
The Consultative Committee has decided to maintain the ban on non-essential foreign travel to and from Belgium until 18 April 2021. This measure will be re-evaluated at the next Consultative Committee. This travel ban is a justified and necessary measure to reduce the circulation of the virus.
The Consultative Committee will re-evaluate the coronavirus situation in our country on 26 March.