Consultative Committee lowers age for face mask requirement, limits indoor activities and decides on education package

Today, the Consultative Committee has discussed the epidemiological situation in our country. To reduce the pressure on our health system, it has been decided to limit indoor activities, to bring forward the Christmas holidays for pre-school and primary school education to 20 December and to switch to hybrid education in secondary schools. People are also urged to limit social contacts indoors as much as possible.

The Consultative Committee has established that the number of infections has continued to rise. New hospital admissions and the burden on hospitals have also continued to increase. Four out of ten intensive care beds are occupied by coronavirus patients today. At the same time, 220 beds are unavailable due a shortage of healthcare staff. The reproduction rate continues to be above 1 so the epidemic is still growing, as is the burden on healthcare.

In order to reduce the high number of infections as well as the pressure on our health system to an acceptable level as soon as possible, the Consultative Committee has taken the following decisions:1.

1.Mandatory face masks from the age of six

Children from the age of six will have to wear a face mask in all settings where face masks are mandatory.

2. Limit social contacts

It is strongly recommended that social contacts be kept to a minimum and preferably take place outdoors. The use of self-tests is recommended.

3. Children and Education

The Christmas break for pre-school and primary school education will be brought forward by one week and will start on 20 December.

Secondary education will switch to hybrid education until the examination period. For those students who do not have access to digital resources, distance learning can be organised in school.

Furthermore, from 6 December onwards, a series of measures will be implemented to make the school environment safer:

  • Mandatory CO2 meters in every classroom and in rooms where many people congregate.
  • The imposition of a new protocol on year groups to close as soon as there are two infected cases.
  • Mandatory face masks from the age of six.
  • Ban on out-of-school activities.
  • Parents are recommended to encourage their children to test themselves regularly.

Part-time arts education follows the same regulations as primary and secondary education.

In-person education will be provided for the most vulnerable students – especially in special-needs education. The Ministers for Education will specify the terms.

The Task Force on Vaccination will move quickly to vaccinate those children under the age of 12, given the importance of vaccination to epidemiological challenges in education.

4. Private gatherings indoors

All indoor activities and gatherings are prohibited for the time being, including organised activities, but with the exception of:

  • sports,
  • private gatherings organised at home or in a small tourist accommodation,
  • weddings and funerals.

5. Public events indoors

Events with more than 4,000 visitors can no longer take place as from Saturday 4 December.

From Monday 6 December onwards, indoor events, cultural and other performances and conferences are only allowed under the following conditions:

  • a maximum of 200 visitors,
  • seated,
  • with face mask,
  • Covid Safe Ticket requirement from 50 visitors.

Cinemas can receive a maximum of 200 people per auditorium and a distance of 1.5 metres between different groups must be respected.

6. Public events outdoors

The Consultative Committee wishes to remind organisers that they are responsible for crowd control measures.

The Committee urges local authorities to monitor these measures strictly. Any event that does not respect these measures must be cancelled.

7. Teleworking

The teleworking requirement has been confirmed with a maximum of one return day to the office per week. Team building activities and company parties are prohibited.

8. Hospitality sector

Reduced opening hours in the hospitality sector, i.e. between 5am and 11pm.

9. Sports competitions indoors

Indoor sports competitions must be organised without an audience. Minor participants may be accompanied by two adults.

These measures will take effect on Saturday 4 December 2021.

The Consultative Committee will reassess the epidemiological situation during the week of 20 December.

The Consultative Committee has pointed out that mayors have a local responsibility at all times to cancel events that pose an epidemiological risk, after consultation with the appropriate health authorities.