• Meuse-Rhine Gazette

Belgium announces 'afkoelingspakket' / 'mesures de temporisation' hoping to avoid a third wave

The Belgian federal and state governments discussed the corona situation today in another emergency Overlegcomité / Comité de concertation. A new seven-day average of 221 hospitalisations and the fact that the number of infections is doubling every fortnight lead the Overlegcomité / Comité de concertation to agree revisiting some restrictions and applying new regulations to avoid a third wave.


The positivity ratio has also increased in the past week, with the strongest increase in teenagers (10-19 years) and in 40-64 year-olds.


Most infections and clusters are found in education and at work. Based on these findings, the Overlegcomité / Comité de concertation has decided on a afkoelingspakket / mesures de temporisation (cooling-off package) which they hope will ensure that the increasing trend is reversed, both in terms of the number of infections and hospital admissions.


Meetings outside a maximum of four people

Any group of people (not counting children up to and including 12 years of age) who may meet outside is limited to a maximum of four. Families larger than four are, of course, allowed to travel with more.


Non-essential shops by appointment

Non-essential shops may only receive customers by appointment, with the maximum number of customers allowed in at any one time depending on the size of the shop and with an absolute maximum of 50 people. Two persons from the same family may enter the shop together.


Home deliveries and click-and-collect are still possible provided there is no physical contact and no entering the shop.


Essential shops (including food shops, pharmacies, but also shops for hygiene products, clothing fabrics, flowers and plants, telecom shops and newspaper and book shops) may continue to receive customers without appointment.


Closure of non-medical contact professions

Non-medical contact professions must close. This concerns among others:

  • beauticians;

  • non-medical pedicure shops;

  • nail salons;

  • massage parlours;

  • hairdressers and barbershops;

  • tattoo parlours and piercing parlours.

Youth and education

Classes at all levels of education (primary and secondary schools, part-time arts education, higher education and social promotion) will be suspended from 29 March to 2 April. Nursery schools may remain open. Exams may still be organised in the week before the Paasvakantie.


Between 29 March and 2 April, childcare will be provided for those who are not able to telework (work from home) and for those who are unable to arrange childcare. School will resume after the Paasvakantie on Monday 19 April, possibly reintroducing contact teaching for the secondary level.


Youth camps and extra-curricular activities for school children remain possible in limited groups of no more than 10 young people and without overnight stays.


Stricter controls on teleworking

The controls on compulsory telework are intensified and made more stringent.


Employers must keep a register of who will be present at the workplace and when. Public administrations must also comply with telework obligations.


Non-essential travel remains prohibited

Non-essential travel during the Paasvakantie remains prohibited. Border controls are significantly increased.


Demonstrations

The number of participants for static demonstrations on public roads is limited to 50.


Importance of the ground rules

The Consultation Committee reiterates the importance of:

  • the observance of hygiene measures in force,

  • the strict enforcement of these measures by the police and inspection services,

  • the obligation to telework and its strict enforcement by the inspection services,

  • the measures taken by local authorities to avoid crowding in busy places.

  • The Overlegcomité / Comité de concertation, the coronacommissariaat / le commissariat Corona and the Risk Assessment Group will continue to monitor the situation closely on a day-to-day basis and will meet immediately if the situation so requires.

The Ministerieel Besluit / L’arrêté ministériel is valid until 25 April.


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