COVID-19 alarm level 4 goes into effect: stricter rules starting Monday 19 October

Today, the Consultative Committee considered the worrying epidemiological situation, with the entire country at alert level 4 (very high alert) on the basis of the COVID-19 barometer.

The pressure on hospitals and on the continuity of non-COVID-19 care is increasing. Some hospitals are faced with staff unable to come into work. There is also increased pressure on primary healthcare, in particular general practitioners.

The number of COVID patients in ICUs today is 2.5 times higher than at the end of March.

The Consultative Committee has decided on a series of measures to prevent hospitals from getting into trouble, schools from closing, the economy from stagnating and too many people becoming lonely due to a general lockdown:

1. Close contacts (so-called "cuddle" contacts) are limited to max. 1 person
2. Private gatherings are limited to the same 4 people every two weeks.
3. Gatherings in public areas are limited to a maximum of 4 people.
4. Working from home will become the rule, for jobs that allow for this this, while ensuring the continuity of business operations, activities and services.
5. Markets and small fairs will remain open, but the consumption of drinks and food will be forbidden. Flea markets, second-hand fairs and small Christmas markets are forbidden.
6. Bars and restaurants are closed. They will remain closed for a period of four weeks, and this measure will be evaluated after two weeks. Picking up meals is possible until 10:00 PM. Receptions and banquets provided by a professional catering company are forbidden, except in hotels for guests who are staying at the hotel and gatherings after funerals (max. 40 people).
7. Night shops have to close at 10:00 PM. There is a ban on the sale of alcohol from 8:00 PM onwards.
8. Ban on entering the public space between midnight and 5:00 AM, except for essential travel that cannot be delayed, such as for urgent medical reasons, professional travel and commuting.
9. For indoor activities, the existing protocols will continue to apply until the evaluation on 23/10. The sale of drinks and food will be banned.
10. Competitive sports: compartments are halved from 400 to 200 spectators (professional) or only limited to members of the same household (amateurs). Canteens and drinking establishments are closed.

The federal government and the governments of the federated entities will do everything in their power to provide maximum support to everyone who is economically affected. For example, the federal government will double the bridging right for the self-employed who are forced to close down. Existing support measures will be extended. There will also be an exemption from the NSSO.

The measures will enter into force on 19 October and will apply for one month, after which they will be evaluated.