Belgium makes cautious plans to relax regulations as spring approaches
The federal and state governments discussed the corona situation today in the Overlegcomité / le Comité de concertation. They believe that caution is still required and, as a first step, will give priority to education, young people and outdoor activities.
Outdoor activities have a significantly lower virological risk. Allowing people to exercise outdoors in somewhat larger groups also stimulates human connectedness – a basic need that is under great pressure due to the pandemic. This is particularly important for young people.
More people outside
From 8 March onwards, 10 people will be able to meet outside while maintaining a distance of 1.5 metres.
From 8 March onwards, it will be possible to conduct a funeral or commemorative ceremony with a maximum of 50 people and a maximum of one person per 10 square metres.
Priority for young people and education
From 8 March onwards, organised outdoor activities (sports and other) will be allowed:
for children (-13 years of age) with max. 10 indoors or 25 outdoors
for young people (-19 years old) with max. 10 outdoors
The audience for sports training will be limited to one person per child.
From 15 March onwards, additional school activities of up to 1 day will be allowed in primary and secondary schools.
From 15 March onwards, full-time contact education is allowed for vulnerable groups in special education and part-time vocational education.
From 15 March onwards, a maximum of 20% contact education is allowed in higher education.
As far as the epidemiological situation allows and depending on the pressure on the hospitals and the progress of the vaccination campaign, an outdoor plan will be implemented from April onwards, which will allow the following activities:
Organised outdoor activities for everyone (from sports and other associations, including sports training): max. 10 people. The audience for sports training will be limited to one person per under 19 year of age;
Culture, events and worship services: max. 50 people, subject to compliance with distance rules and face mask regulations;
Primary and secondary education: after the Easter holidays, every day in the classroom;
The Overlegcomité / le Comité de concertation has also decided that activities organised during the Easter holidays with overnight stays for children and young people up to 18 years old will be allowed, provided that the group consists of a maximum of 25 people, not including supervisors. The camp can only take place if all participants are tested before the start and at the end of the camp.
Wider use of rapid tests
As far as the epidemiological situation allows and depending on the pressure on the hospitals and the progress of the vaccination campaign, and provided that rapid tests are used, even more outdoor and indoor activities could be planned from 1 May onwards. These include social contacts, indoor and outdoor catering, shopping and ambulatory trade, culture and events, youth work, club life and sports, worship services, home care and funfairs.
Rapid tests can play an important role here. To this end, a flexible legal framework needs to be developed so that antigen tests are available in a generalised manner in the short term.
The Groep van Experts voor Managementstrategie van COVID-19 (GEMS) is asked to draw up a more detailed plan of approach to ensure that future steps are safe. This should include ventilation and the role that CO2 meters can play in restarting indoor activities.
Rules for non-essential travel
The Overlegcomité / le Comité de concertation decided to keep the ban on travel for leisure purposes to and from Belgium until 18 April 2021, but this measure will be re-evaluated at the next Overlegcomité / le Comité de concertation. This travel ban is a justified and necessary measure to stop the circulation of the virus.
The Overlegcomité / le Comité de concertation will again take stock of the corona situation in our country on 26 March.
Photo: Overlegcomité / le Comité de concertation © 2021