News item

Consultative Committee decides on winter package with immediate effect

 

The Consultative Committee took note of the fact that the coronas situation in our countries is rapidly deteriorating with overburdening of the healthcare system, loss of healthcare staff and delay in patient care. Therefore, the Consultative Committee has decided on a new winter package with measures to reduce the number of contacts.

The corona situation has further deteriorated since the previous Consultative Committee. The number of infections, hospital admissions and the burden on intensive care continued to rise. Although a temporary further increase was expected, it goes beyond the most negative scenarios that were envisaged.

This has also worsened the situation in healthcare, especially for GPs, testing centres and hospitals. In addition, 10% of ICU beds are not available due to a loss of healthcare staff. The result is a further delay in patient care, both in primary care and in hospitals.

The Consultative Committee has therefore taken a series of measures aimed at slowing down the spread of the virus and making the burden of care more manageable once again. These measures will be reassessed on 15 December.

  1. Additional vaccinations

Following the booster shot aimed at vulnerable and specific target groups, such as 65+, caregivers, immuno-deficient persons and persons vaccinated with Johnson&Johnson, the entire population should now receive a booster dose as soon as possible.

The aim is for citizens to receive a booster shot with an mRNA vaccine four (Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca) or six (Pfizer and Moderna) months after their last dose.

The Consultative Committee asks that the scientifically based operational plan developed for this purpose by the IMC Public Health on 27 November be implemented as soon as possible, to ensure that the capacity of the vaccination campaign is rapidly and significantly increased and as many people as possible can be vaccinated before Christmas. People should be able to register through a flexible online system, such as QVAX.

Given the recent EMA approval, the Committee requests that the Superior Health Council and the Consultative Committee on Bioethics give their opinion as soon as possible with a view to the possible start, on a voluntary basis, of vaccination of the 5- to 11-year-olds.

  1. Winter package

Private gatherings

Indoor private gatherings are banned, except for weddings and funerals (coffee table). Coffee tables should be organised with CST from fifty persons indoors and one hundred persons outdoors. The terms and conditions of the catering industry apply; however, dancing with a face mask is permitted.

This provision does not apply to meetings in private residences. The Committee strongly encourages the use of self-testing when receiving guests in private accommodation.

The use of the CST at private gatherings does not apply to private gatherings organised at the private residence, except when professionally organised catering activities are involved.

If professional catering services are used, these services must also be restricted between 5 am and 11 pm, except for wedding parties.

Hospitality activities

The number of people per table is limited to 6. A household may share a table regardless of its size.

Only seats at the table are allowed.

Opening hours will be limited from 5 am to 11 pm.

Night clubs and dance halls

Night clubs and dance halls must close.

Public events

Indoor public events: only sitting allowed, according to CST rules plus face mask.

Outdoor public events: if organisers do not respect the rules of social distancing and the distance of 1.5 metres between groups, their event will be closed down.

The rules of the catering industry apply.

The measures for events organised by professionals will enter into force on 29 November.

Trade fairs

The Committee confirms the face mask requirement for trade fairs.

The federated entities will adopt the necessary rules for the general introduction of the CST at trade fairs.

Sports events

Indoor sports matches, both amateur and professional, take place without an audience. However, any participant up to and including 18 years of age may be accompanied by his or her parents.

Compulsory education

The Ministers of Education will elaborate a package of measures on, among others:

  • Mandatory face mask.
  • Air quality and improved ventilation.
  • Keeping class groups apart.
  • Detection of high-risk contacts.
  • Extracurricular activities.

The Ministers of Education and Higher Education are invited to formulate additional proposals based on consultations with the umbrella organisations and trade unions.

Youth activities

The Ministers of Youth are asked to formulate additional proposals on restrictions and safeguards for youth activities in indoor spaces by 29 November, considering the epidemiological risks of mixing young people from different classes and schools.

Working from home

The period with a maximum of one day of on-site working is extended from 12 December to 19 December.

The period as of which two days of on-site working are allowed starts from 20 December.

  1. Enforcement

The police and inspection authorities are asked to take strict action against violations of the measures.

The competent ministers and mayors are asked to provide the necessary instructions to the police and inspection services.

  1. Finally, three guidelines to keep it safe
  • Limit your contacts. Adapt your behaviour and be especially careful with vulnerable people. If you do want to see each other, preferably meet up outside.
     
  • Use self-tests. When you do receive people at home, use a self-test and wear your face mask. This way, you are safer. Self-tests are available from any pharmacist and in supermarkets.
     
  • Ventilate. Ensure adequate ventilation of indoor areas. That is healthy anyway, but especially in these corona times.