relive the live of the day

The Consultative Committee met this Friday, September 17, 2021. The representatives of the various governments of the country met at the Egmont Palace in Brussels to take stock of the evolution of the epidemiological situation and to express their views on the remaining measures. in force. Here is what was announced.

The mask falls almost everywhere … in Flanders

The consultation committee agreed on Friday on relaxing the wearing of masks which will constitute a “federal base” from October 1. In Brussels, however, the current rules will continue to apply, announced Minister-President Rudi Vervoort. In Wallonia, his colleague Elio Di Rupo pleaded for caution and complies with the recommendations of the experts.

According to this federal basis, the wearing of a mask by those over 12 will only remain compulsory in public transport, train stations and airports, healthcare establishments, contact professions and during events bringing together more than 500 people inside.

The Regions are free to adopt more restrictive rules if the epidemiological situation in their territory requires it, which will be the case in the Capital Region.

In Wallonia, the regional government has not yet decided. It will meet “in the next few days” to decide whether the relaxations will apply to the south of the country from October 1. In Flanders, the government will also meet early next week, but Minister-President Jan Jambon has already announced that the north of the country will likely stick to the federal base on the mask. He did not hide his satisfaction at the end of restrictions in his region, at the highest vaccination rate in the country. “We have taken a very big step on the road to freedom,” he said.

From October 1, nightclubs will be able to reopen their doors, provided they use the covid safe ticket (CST) and ensure sufficient air quality and ventilation. Organizers of indoor events of more than 500 people or outdoor events of more than 750 people will also be able to use the CST from October 1 and will in this case be exempt from certain obligations, including wearing a mask.

The covid safe ticket will be more or less widely used in other cases depending on the regions. Brussels has planned it for various sectors, including Horeca, from October 1. In this regard, the consultation committee considers that the CST is “an appropriate alternative solution to restrictive measures or other closures in municipalities where the epidemiological situation has deteriorated significantly”. On several occasions, not only the capital was mentioned but also the Liège region where contamination is soaring.

If the latest flexibilities have been decided, it is thanks to the good vaccination coverage in Belgium, even if it remains deficient in certain areas. Prime Minister Alexander De Croo has issued a new appeal targeting the unvaccinated. “It’s becoming an epidemic of the unvaccinated. As a society, we cannot accept that some people choose to put others in danger. Vaccines are safe, free, and available everywhere. These people are also responsible for the fact that stricter rules remain in certain places (…) This is not acceptable. Endangering other people is a right that we cannot have ”, he declared.

Belgium is still living in the federal phase of crisis management even if, this Friday, it took an important step in the autonomy granted to the Regions. The coming weeks will be devoted to preparing for the end of this phase. No date has yet been announced.

The federal government also hopes that next week steps will be taken in the compulsory vaccination of nursing staff. Opinions are awaited from the National Labor Council and the Federal Council of Care Institutions. The Minister of Health, Frank Vandenbroucke, wants to move quickly. “I can imagine that there will be transitional arrangements but we must quickly make it understood that vaccination in the care sector is obvious,” he warned.

There was no question at the meeting of a vaccination obligation for all. “It’s a very theoretical debate, it’s interesting but I’m interested in concrete actions. I do not see how to organize compulsory vaccination for all Belgians. We know very well that it is impossible, ”explained Mr. Vandenbroucke.

All measures decided at the level of the federal base

➜ Wearing a mask

This is what authorities call the “federal plinth” regarding the mask. Regions may decide not to follow.

From October 1, the wearing of a mask remains compulsory for people over 12 years old only in the following circumstances
:

> Public transport, stations and airports;

> Organized public transport;

> Healthcare establishments;

> For staff and patients or clients in medical and non-medical contact professions (hairdressers, etc.);

> During events, cultural and other shows, competitions and sports training sessions, if they take place indoors, without application of the CST, from 500 people.

In these cases, it is a federal mandatory base applicable to the whole country.. The regional authorities may, if epidemiological conditions or an excessively low vaccination rate so require, provide for more stringent mask wearing obligations.

> The voluntary wearing of the mouth-nasal mask remains of course authorized in places and during activities where the wearing of the mask is no longer compulsory.

> The voluntary wearing of a mask is also strongly recommended for all activities where it is impossible to ensure compliance with social distancing rules.

> Wearing a mask remains compulsory for students in higher education in the Wallonia-Brussels Federation.

➜ The wearing of the mask will be maintained as is in Brussels!

The obligation to wear a mask will be maintained in the Brussels Region in the sectors where it is currently applied, in particular shops, the office of the Brussels minister-president, Rudi Vervoort, informed on Friday after the consultation committee. .

The Consultative Committee decided to relax measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus, nationwide. The epidemiological and vaccination situation is however very contrasted from one territory to another.

“In Brussels, this situation will not make it possible to adopt the same flexibilities on October 1. In addition to the entry into force of the “covid stafe ticket” (CST) for several sectors, the obligation to wear a mask will have to be maintained in the sectors where it currently applies for all of Belgium, in particular in shops. These will in fact not be submitted to the CST, in particular to allow everyone access to essential shops, but consequently, wearing a mask will remain compulsory. It will be the same for the activities of contacts ”, explained the cabinet.

➜ Horeca and nightlife

> From October 1, it is again allowed to dance in cafes.

> Nightclubs and dance halls can reopen from October 1 on the basis of reinforced protocols with regard to air quality, ventilation and maximum capacity depending on the surface area.

➜ Covid Safe Ticket (CST)

The Covid Safe Ticket is proof of a complete vaccination, a recent negative PCR test or a certificate of recovery. The Concertation Committee considers that the Covid Safe Ticket constitutes an appropriate alternative solution to restrictive measures or other closures in cities and towns where the epidemiological situation has deteriorated significantly.

The federated entities must provide a regulatory basis – via decree or ordinance – in order to anchor the use of the Covid Safe Ticket. A reflection will be launched in order to decide on the extension or not of the use of the Covid Safe Ticket in public places where the epidemiological risks remain high.

Organizers of indoor events bringing together 500 or more people and outdoor events bringing together 750 people or more will also be able to use the Covid Safe Ticket as of October 1. In this case, the obligations of the CIRM / CERM fall.

Respect for wearing a mask and social distancing are no longer mandatory during these events. However, the organizers must request permission from the local authorities.

➜ Vaccination rate too low in some cities and towns

The Brussels authorities have taken the following measures:

– increase in the number of “call and field” agents to check people returning from travel from countries with a high positivity rate;

– strengthening of the manual control of PLFs, where suspect forms are sent directly to field agents for (in-depth) monitoring;

– direct police access to the PLF database, with checks on people who have not complied with the check obligation;

– expressly asks companies and administrations located in Brussels to keep teleworking as the standard;

– extended use of the Covid Safe Ticket;

– possibility of being vaccinated in companies, secondary schools, colleges and universities;

– setting up of mobile vaccination points (general practitioners, home nurses, pharmacies, stations, etc.).

➜ Preparation for the end of the federal phase

The coming weeks will be devoted to preparing for the end of the federal phase. The Consultative Committee will also continue to closely monitor the evolution of the epidemiological situation and will meet no later than mid-October.

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