Consultative Committee: Code yellow as of Monday 7 March
From 7 March, the coronavirus barometer will switch to code yellow. This has been decided by the Consultative Committee. As a result, the Covid Safe Ticket will no longer be necessary in the hospitality sector and there will no longer be any restrictions on events, etc. In addition, the epidemic emergency and the federal phase of the national emergency plan have been called off after two years.
The Consultative Committee has established that infections and the number of new hospital admissions are following a steady downward trend. The reproduction rate for infections and hospital admissions remains at less than 1, which suggests the virus is circulating at a much slower pace. Meanwhile, the number of beds occupied in intensive care units is also declining, well below the threshold of 300 beds. Over 9 million Belgians have received the complete primary vaccination course and over 7 million have received a booster vaccine.
Based on these developments, the Consultative Committee has decided to switch to code yellow as of Monday 7 March. The epidemic emergency will also be lifted next week and there will come an end to the federal phase of the national emergency plan declared on 13 March 2020 at the onset of the coronavirus crisis.
In concrete terms, this means all restrictions will be dropped, including those in the hospitality, retail and event sectors.
1. Face masks recommended, but mandatory in health care facilities and on public transport
- Wearing a face mask will still be recommended, including in indoor areas, in crowded areas and in places where the 1.5-meter distance cannot be guaranteed.
- The use of an FFP2 face mask remains recommended for vulnerable people.
- After Spring half term, from Monday 7 March 2022, it will no longer be mandatory to wear a face mask in educational settings.
- In healthcare facilities such as hospitals and residential care centres, as on public transport, face masks will remain mandatory from the age of 12.
2. Covid Safe Ticket
It will no longer be necessary to use the Covid Safe Ticket in, among others, the hospitality industry and at events.
3. Travel rules from 11 March
- It will no longer be necessary to fill out a Passenger Locator Form (PLF). The PLF will now only be mandatory for those travelling with a carrier to Belgium from a third country that is not on the European Union’s white list.
- There will be no testing or quarantine requirement for people travelling to Belgium who have one of the three COVID-19 certificates (vaccination, test or recovery).
- People living in Belgium who do not have one of the three COVID-19 certificates (vaccination, test or recovery) and are travelling from a country with an unfavourable situation must be tested (rapid antigen test or PCR test) on day 1 after arrival. Countries with an unfavourable situation include dark red countries on the ECDC map and third countries not on the European Union’s white list.
- Those not residing in Belgium must have a valid COVID-19 certificate (vaccination, test or recovery) upon entry, except for short stays of less than 48 hours without the use of a carrier.
- For people travelling from countries or regions with a new variant of concern, the current testing and quarantine rules will remain unchanged.
- A ban on entry remains in place for non-essential travel by non-EU citizens residing in a third country that is not on the European Union’s white list, unless they have a vaccination or recovery certificate.
- A ban on entry remains in place from countries or regions with a new variant of concern (very high-risk area with a variant of concern (VOC)).
The Consultative Committee has invited companies and public services, in consultation with the social partners, to embed a structured teleworking regime.
5. Monitoring epidemiological situation
The Consultative Committee will continue to monitor the epidemiological situation. It refers to the five levers provided by the World Health Organization to temper any resurgence of coronavirus:
- Maintaining the ‘genome sequencing’ capacity to rapidly detect new variants;
- Continued commitment to primary vaccination of unreached and vulnerable groups, as high vaccination coverage remains the most important protection against new variants;
- Making therapy available and affordable with antiviral drugs, complementary to vaccination;
- Promoting air quality through ventilation and filtration;
- International solidarity in terms of the donation and production of vaccines to reduce the risk of the emergence of new virus variants.