De Croo: "There is no room for relaxation."
At a press conference held in Brussels this evening Belgian Eerste minister / Premier ministre Alexander De Croo asked all residents of Belgium not to travel outside of the country during the festive period, he went further to say that Belgium's infection rate is better than most and that residents need to continue to follow the regulations in order to slow the spread of Covid-19.
"We have important days and weeks ahead of us,"
says Prime Minister De Croo.
"In the next few days, it will be us who will determine how the numbers evolve."
The Prime Minister emphasises that, in the past eight weeks, the figures have fallen sharply.
"At the peak we had 22 000 contaminations a day, today it is ten times lower. Because together we followed the rules."
However those figures remain too high, he emphasises.
"This could be the beginning of a third wave, but we can avoid it. If we don't pay attention and play by the rules, things will go the wrong way. There is no doubt about that. We must continue to restrict our contacts. We're facing the holiday period, but the virus is not taking a holiday."
De Croo also praises "the vast majority" of the population who play by the rules.
De Croo announced tighter controls on teleworking (working from home). Companies that do not comply with the current regulations can face "severe fines".
"We can see that compliance with the rules there is weakening. Companies that do not comply will therefore be penalised more severely. Teleworking is not an option but an obligation."
The curfew remains unchanged. This means that residents in Vlaanderen have to stay in between midnight and 05:00. In Brussels and Wallonia the curfew begins earlier each evening at 22:00.
There will also be strict controls at the Belgian borders.
"Anyone who stays abroad for more than 48 hours will be regarded as a 'high-risk' contact."
Anyone returning from a red zone must therefore be obliged to go into quarantine for seven days. From now on, there will also be strict checks at airports to ensure that the Passenger Locator Form (PLF) has been filled in correctly. De Croo therefore made an appeal to all residents in Belgium:
"Do not travel!"
Anyone travelling to Belgium who does not hold Belgian residency will have to be able to present proof of a negative Covid-19 test. This does not include cross-border workers.
Photo: Belgian Eerste minister / Premier ministre Alexander De Croo
"Hold on to one "knuffel contact" per family and for meetings the rule of four continues to apply. If we do that, we will soon have prospects."
The rules on social contacts also continue to apply: every family member has the right to one "knuffel contact". This is a person with whom close and lasting contact is maintained, with whom one does not have to apply social distancing regulations and can be invited to your home. Note however: more than one "knuffel contact" cannot be invited to the same house/family at the same time. Those who live alone may invite a second person, but not at the same time.
For Christmas, the same rules apply: households may only invite one "knuffel contact", an exception to this regulation is that people who live alone may invite both their "knuffel contacts" together at the same time.
The winter school holidays will simply last two weeks. The schools will open on 4 January, provided that they take into account the regulations that have already been in place in recent weeks.
De Croo realises that the strict measures weigh heavily on everyone in Belgium, especially with the festive season approaching.
"But there is light at the end of the tunnel. We may start vaccinating before the end of the year."
Further information in English about the regulations currently in force in Belgium can be found online at the info-coronavirus.be website, which is an initiative of Crisiscentrum and De Federale overheidsdienst (FOD) Volksgezondheid, Veiligheid van de Voedselketen en Leefmilieu / SPF Santé publique, Sécurité de la Chaîne alimentaire et Environnement