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Consultation Committee: compulsory face masks, COVID Safe Ticket and teleworking to help fight the autumn wave of COVID

The Consultation Committee discussed the epidemiological situation at its meeting today. The face mask requirement has been expanded and the COVID Safe Ticket and teleworking should curb the growing number of infections.

The virus has been spreading much more rapidly in recent weeks, mainly due to the growing number of contacts and indoor activities. The average number of new infections is 5,300 per day, up more than 70% compared to last week.

While the situation in hospitals remains manageable, with a weekly average of 115 admissions, it too increased over the past week.

While locking down certain sectors or limiting activities is not necessary at this time, the epidemiological situation calls for caution and vigilance.

The following measures will take effect on Friday, 29 October.

  1. Expansion of the requirement to wear a face mask

The current face mask requirement, for example in public transport and in the medical and non-medical contact professions, has been extended. Wearing a face mask is now compulsory in the following indoor spaces:

  • stores and shopping centres
  • care establishments
  • publicly accessible areas in businesses, companies, public buildings, courthouse buildings
  • venues for cultural and recreational activities, sports and other events, including theatres, concert halls, cinemas, museums, indoor amusement and theme parks, indoor gyms and sports facilities
  • libraries, game/toy libraries and media libraries
  • places of worship

Wearing a mask is not required in places where the COVID Safe Ticket is used.

  1. COVID Safe Ticket

For public events, the federal government requires the use of the COVID Safe Ticket for events where there are at least 200 people indoors and 400 people outdoors. If the COVID Safe Ticket is used, then face masks are not required.

The federated entities will require the use of the COVID Safe Ticket in all hotels, restaurants, cafés and gyms in Belgium as of 1 November. Personnel must wear a face mask as of 29 October.

  1. Teleworking

Teleworking is strongly recommended for all personnel at businesses, companies, associations and service providers, unless doing so is impossible due to the nature of the company's activities or the nature of the services it provides.

More people teleworking should reduce the number of contacts in the workplace and on public transport.

  1. Testing policy

Contact testing and tracing remain crucial lines of defence. Care must also be taken to avoid overburdening general practitioners.

The Consultative Committee has therefore decided that testing centres will remain open temporarily during the winter period.

Contact tracing capabilities will be maintained to ensure that people who test positive are contacted as quickly as possible. The regional authorities are taking all the necessary steps to this end.

  1. Third dose of the vaccine

The Committee asked the public health ministers to organise the administration of a booster dose for the entire population once the need for this third dose has been proven scientifically.

  1. Pandemic law

The Committee noted the federal government's decision to declare an epidemic emergency for a period of up to three months and approved that decision.

The federated entities may at any time take measures that go beyond the federally established base measures.