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Consultative committee puts outdoor plan on hold and calls for education measures

Today, the federal government and the federated entities convened the Consultative Committee to discuss the current coronavirus situation.

The Consultative Committee has established that since 12 March the number of new infections has increased significantly.

The positivity rate has also risen slightly. The increase concerns all age groups, except for people over 65. The positivity rate has risen most in the 10-19 years age group.

The number of new strains of coronavirus continues to increase, now accounting for approximately 65 percent of infections.

An increase in the number of infections and clusters is also being seen in educational sectors.

The number of hospital admissions is again showing a strong upward trend along with a sharp increase in the number of intensive care admissions. In the meantime, hospitals have switched to phase 1B of the hospital emergency plan.

On the basis of these observations, the Consultative Committee has taken a series of decisions.

1. Outdoor plan postponed

The outdoor plan has been put on hold for the time being, with the exception of youth activities (young people up to the age of 18) for a maximum of 10 people taking part in outdoor activities without an overnight stay. For children under the age of 12, activities should preferably take place outside.

2. Measures in education

The Consultative Committee has called upon the Ministers for Education to submit a detailed and forthright plan by Monday 22 March to reduce the number of infections and clusters in schools as soon as possible.

The Consultative Committee has also decided that:

  • the full-time return of the 2nd stage of secondary education will be postponed from 29 March until after the Easter holidays;
  • all primary school pupils in years 5 and 6 must wear face masks in school as from Wednesday 24 March;
  • in secondary schools, full-time face-to-face education can only resume after the Easter holidays, as from 19 April;
  • full-time face-to-face education must be accompanied by the roll out of regular testing of teachers and, in a second phase, of pupils.

3. Antigen tests for non-teleworkers in high-risk sectors

 From Monday 22 March, antigen tests will be deployed in high-risk sectors where teleworking is not possible.

4. Restrictions in trains

There will be reduced seating capacity to tourist destinations. Except on school days, only window seats may be used on trains, with the exception of children under the age of 12.

Importance of the basic rules

 The Consultative Committee reiterates the importance of:

  • compliance with the sanitary measures in force by the population;
  • the strict enforcement of these measures by police and inspection services;
  • compulsory teleworking and its strict enforcement by the inspection services;
  • the measures taken by local authorities to avoid overcrowding in busy places.

The Consultative Committee, the Coronavirus Commission and the Risk Assessment Group continue to monitor the situation closely on a day-to-day basis and will meet immediately if the situation so requires.

The Ministerial Order has been extended until 30 April, with the exception of the ban on non-essential travel which is extended until 18 April subject to parliamentary approval of the cooperation agreement on the enforcement of mandatory testing and quarantine of travellers.