The Belgian government tightens Corona’s measures: “All signs are in red”

The Belgian government tightens Corona’s measures: “All signs are in red”
Arrival procedures in Belgium.  The measures will be stricter from Saturday.  BELGA's photo

Arrival procedures in Belgium. The measures will be stricter from Saturday.BELGA’s photo

From Saturday, every visitor aged 10 years and over in Belgium must wear a face mask in cafes, restaurants, museums and other indoor public places and on public transport, except for those with a seat. The age limit so far has been 12 years. The measures will remain in place until January 28. State governments have decided that 10-year-olds are not yet required to wear face masks at school.

Visitors in Belgium already had to show a Corona Entry Card (CTB) with a certificate of vaccination, a negative test or recent proof of recovery in public places and on public transport. Discos and nightclubs now have a choice: visitors must wear a face mask or take a quick test before entering. Shops, restaurants and clubs do not have to close any earlier than in the Netherlands, nor do they have to close temporarily.

Work from home for four days

“All signs are on the red line,” Prime Minister Alexandre de Croo announced, Wednesday evening, at a press conference after the deliberations of the advisory committee of the six Belgian governments, which took a decision on the new measures. We were all hoping for a Corona-free winter, but Belgium is not an island. The fact that there will be no lockdown is thanks to the people who have been vaccinated. “That’s a thank you,” De Croo told TV.

Until December 12, Belgian employees are required to work from home four out of five working days, if their jobs permit, as is the case with many office jobs. From that date it will be three days a week. Working from home was also largely mandatory during previous Corona waves. The companies were meticulously vetted for compliance, on pain of heavy fines. Unlike the Netherlands, almost everyone in Belgium works full time.

Belgium has one of the highest rates of COVID-19 infection in the entire European Union, higher than Austria or the Baltic states. Over the past two weeks, more than 1 percent of the population has been infected. The strongest increase was in Flanders, where the nationwide vaccination rate was highest, leading the Flemish regional government to relax last month.

Prime Minister de Croo also announced on Wednesday evening that Belgium will start giving booster doses to everyone who has been fully vaccinated next spring. The provision of this third snapshot to date has been limited to healthcare staff, people in poor health, and people 65 years of age or older.

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