Consultative Committee tightens travel controls

Today, the federal government and the federated entities convened the Consultative Committee to discuss the current coronavirus situation. The Consultative Committee welcomes the progress made on vaccinations but remains vigilant. By the end of August, more than nine out of ten of the most vulnerable people and more than eight out of ten adults will most likely have been fully vaccinated.

Thanks to the successful vaccination campaign, an increasingly lower proportion of cases now result in hospitalisation. Nevertheless, the virus circulation must be stopped in order to reduce the risk of new variants.

The Consultative Committee has decided to keep the existing Summer Plan, but has made a few changes because the more contagious Delta variant is now also dominant in our country.

1. The importance of face masks, social distancing and ventilation

The Consultative Committee has confirmed the importance of wearing a face mask, keeping a safe distance and providing sufficient ventilation indoors. With the exception of children under the age of 12, wearing a face mask remains mandatory in the following circumstances:

  •     when it is impossible to ensure compliance with social distancing rules according to the provisions of the Ministerial Order;
  •     in shops and shopping centres;
  •     in publicly accessible areas of companies, public administrations or associations and of the cultural, festive, sports, recreational and event sectors;
  •     in conference rooms;
  •     in auditoriums;
  •     in places of worship and buildings intended for the public practice of non-denominational moral services;
  •     in libraries, game and multimedia libraries;
  •     in private or public crowded places, such as shopping streets, markets, bric-a-brac markets, year markets and funfairs, as determined by the competent local authority;
  •     on public transport and in stations;
  •     in establishments and places where catering activities are permitted, both for customers and staff, unless whilst eating, drinking or sitting at a table;
  •     when moving around in public and non-public parts of courthouses and courtrooms and, in other cases, in accordance with the guidelines laid down by the Chairman;
  •     during trade fairs including exhibitions;
  •     during demonstrations.

Face masks may be removed occasionally whilst eating and drinking, and when it is impossible to wear one due to the nature of the activity.

At events, cultural and other performances, sports competitions and training sessions and conferences held outdoors where the public is required to remain seated, face masks may only be removed for as long as the person remains seated.

2. Travel

  • The applicable travel rules remain in force.
  • There will be a stricter procedure for countries in the European Union or Schengen Area where dangerous virus variants are circulating, regardless of which colour code applies to the country.

When returning from a European high-risk zone, people who have not yet been fully vaccinated should, in addition to a PCR test on day 1 (including quarantine), also take a PCR test on day 7. The test on day 1 is not needed if the person in question has already had a PCR test during the 72 hours prior to arrival on Belgian territory.

If the PCR test result is positive, the person will be required to self-isolate for 10 consecutive days.

There will be tighter checks on filling in the Passenger Locator Form and on being in possession of an EU Digital COVID Certificate.
The Consultative Committee recommends that organisers of youth camps make every effort to ensure supervisors and participating young people are tested before departure in order to prevent infected people from attending.

3. Events

The Covid Safe Ticket can be used for events with 1,500 people or more and is available for people who are fully vaccinated (i.e. two weeks after the final dose), have a recovery certificate or a recent negative test result.

From 13 August, the Covid Safe Ticket will only apply to outdoor events for 1,500 people or more. From 1 September, indoor events will also be eligible. When using the Covid Safe Ticket, rules concerning face masks, social distancing and CIRM/CERM restrictions are no longer applicable. However, there must be a plan for crowd control management, sanitary precautions must be followed and adequate ventilation (with an indoor CO2 meter) must be provided.

4. Vaccination rates among healthcare providers

The Consultative Committee has confirmed the proposals of the Interministerial Conference on Public Health and has invited the Ministers of Health to:

  • update and complete the summary of vaccination coverage;
  • strengthen consultation with professional groups to further sensitise healthcare providers;
  • give healthcare providers who have not yet been vaccinated another opportunity to get vaccinated;
  • take the necessary initiatives, in consultation with healthcare institutions and occupational health services, to achieve public reporting of vaccination coverage per institution as soon as possible.