Two weeks after a virtual meeting focused on alert, a new Advisory Committee, bringing together the federal government and federal entities, met this Friday to decide what must be put in place to curb the spread of the second don Belgium coronavirus and make decisions about the holidays.
Re-live the press conference
These are the measures that have been decided, in short
> “The committee has decided to stay very careful to promote everyone’s safety, especially before the winter months,” announced Alexander De Croo.
: stores reopen on December 1st. “Responsible and safe, no ‘fun shopping’, alone and for a short time. Crowds outside the shops should be avoided. This will be the responsibility of traders, local authorities but also the responsibilities of citizens.” Wear a mask, disinfect your hands. If you find that there are too many, come back later ”.
Strict hygiene conditions will apply:
– strict observance of ground rules, such as hand washing, keeping a distance, wearing a mask;
– preventive measures must be published in a visible manner for all visitors including staff and suppliers;
– hand disinfectant gel must be available at the entrance; everyone entering the shop must disinfect their hands;
– staff receive appropriate training;
– shopping is done individually with one adult per shopping session. The company of children up to and including the age of 18 is limited;
– a shop visit is as short as possible and lasts a maximum of 30 minutes;
– the store is also responsible for managing the queue outside the store. Monitoring of customers staying outside the store must be arranged in such a way that physical distance rules are followed. The out-of-store establishment is made in accordance with local authority directives
The conditions also apply to the maximum number of customers per square meter of accessible surface:
– for shops, one customer standard per 10 m² of accessible surface applies;
– shops less than 20 m² welcome a maximum of 2 customers at one time, provided that the distance rules are respected;
– department stores of more than 400 m² must provide for access control;
– access to shopping centers, shopping streets and car parks shall be organized by the competent municipal authorities, in accordance with the directions of the Minister of the Interior, in order to respect the rules of distancing, especially the maintenance of distance. 1.5 meters between each person.
> “Only in the middle of January could we further de-define if the figures allow”, says Alexander De Croo. “If we manage to maintain effort until then”. “If there is a third wave, it will be even harder than the second wave. And we won’t be able to hold it anymore. It’s a responsibility we all have. ” For this reason the other sectors remain closed.. Contact professions cannot therefore resume their activities. Just like the hospitality industry.
: on December 24 or 25, people living alone will be able to receive their 2 close contacts. No extended social bubble for homes (always one close link). The curfew (midnight at the federal level, pending a decision for Wallonia and Brussels) and the ban on assembly (maximum 4 people) still apply. There will be a ban on the sale and launch of fireworks at Christmas and New Year. “You must not lose what you have gained in 4 weeks in 4 days”.
> Curfew in Wallonia
: “The curfew is on the Walloon side between 10 pm and 6 am and will remain that way. The current decision is valid until mid-December. The situation will have to be reassessed. If we decide to keep the curfew at 10 pm, I think we can, on the 24th and 25th, get a curfew from midnight to 5 am but I still have to talk about it within my government ”, announced Walloon Minister-President Elio Di Rupo.
> Museums and swimming pools can open in accordance with their sector protocol.
> Strengthened controls for people returning from travel
: operational checks will be carried out to check if people are in quarantine, especially for those returning from skiing. “These journeys are strongly discouraged. We have to be very, very careful, we must not re-import the virus. We will organize border controls ”
> All these decisions are in force until January 15.
Re-live the day
18h10: As for the reopening of restaurants and bars, it would not be considered before Feb. 1, HLN and RTBF said. An evaluation is scheduled for January 15. The reason behind this decision is that Belgium will not be in a “safe zone” at the health level before January 15th.
17h57: According to RTBF, the curfew would be eased for the night of Dec. 24 to 25. That night is allowed to circulate until midnight. The bubble would be spread for single people only, which could invite two people at the same time on Christmas Eve. Nothing would change for families who can only welcome one person.
17h53: Swimming pools and museums could also reopen their doors, according to HLN information. According to our colleagues from the DH, shopping should be done on its own. The duration per shop would be limited to 30 minutes.
17h50: The press conference will be held at 7 pm, not 6:30 pm as previously announced.
17h30: The Concert Committee ends. The press conference will be held at 6.30 pm
16h12: Contact professions such as hairdressers or hairdressers would remain closed, reporting our colleagues from RTL and Nieuwsblad.
16h01: The Advisory Committee would have agreed to reopen non-essential shops from 1 December. Only the practical details are not yet known and will be presented during the press conference. According to the VRT, however, this would be done under strict conditions to avoid crowds.
15h04: According to our colleagues from LN24, the Consultative Committee’s discussions “are not really moving very fast …”. There would be disagreements between scientists and politicians.
14h55: “If you want to be responsible for the death of a loved one all your life, hold Christmas parties.” Frédérique Jacobs, head of the infectious diseases department, talks about reducing the social bubble for end-of-year celebrations. More info in our article.
13h01: The number of clusters is falling in nursing and care homes. More info in our article here.
13h: The consultation committee has started.
12:48 pm: What will be discussed at the Consultative Committee
The Consultative Committee, which meets at 1 pm, will have several points to address today, especially as it should be the last Committee of the year, except in an emergency.
The Committee will address the issue of reopening non-essential businesses. Several ministers have said that the issue will indeed be on the agenda.
As the holidays approach, the social bubble issue should also be addressed. However, we should not expect significant easing. “It’s going to be a small-scale Christmas, it’s going to be a careful Christmas,” Alexander De Croo insisted. The possibility of a lower curfew for December 24 and 31 is also raised.
11:38 am: According to Yves Van Laethem, the start of the school year did not relaunch the coronavirus epidemic
Student return to classes after the extended autumn vacation did not have a visible impact on coronavirus contaminations, French inter-federal spokeswoman Yves Van Laethem said Friday during the presentation of the Sciensano Institute of Public Health figures.
But the resumption of asymptomatic testing had little influence on the number of reported cases.
9:59 am: “Now is not the time to organize large parties, or even small ones”
Infectious disease expert Erika Vlieghe, head of the infectious disease department at Antwerp University Hospital, called on Belgium to take care during the Christmas period just hours before the Advisory Committee.
“Now is not the time to organize large parties, or even small ones,” he wrote on VRT-radio’s De Ochtend program.
“We will be very careful. Hospitals are overcrowded and the healthcare industry is still cracking. Now is not the time for big parties, and not even small ones either. I also think a lot of people understand that, ”added Professor Vlieghe.
“We are better focused on what is possible. Are we really prepared to risk the profit we’ve made? », The former president of the expert group responsible for the strategy of leaving containment (GEES) continued.
Erika Vlieghe also stressed that, on the issue of non-essential reopening of shops, it is more prudent to avoid frequent places in poorly ventilated areas.
9:25 am: towards reopening non-essential stores
While the Advisory Committee is meeting at 1 pm this Friday, the reopening of non-essential stores seems to be taking serious shape. This morning, two members of the Advisory Committee suggested that these businesses should be reopened, subject to conditions. “This is on the agenda of the consultation committee this afternoon,” Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Employment and Labor Pierre-Yves Dermagne (PS) told the private Bel-RTL radio microphone. Before stating: “As long as it (this reopening) is well framed, according to strict rules”.
The Minister-President of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation, Pierre-Yves Jeholet (MR), described it as “essential” to reopen these businesses under harsh conditions, during the Matin Première program he was a guest on Friday morning.
“Because if we don’t do that, the risks are much greater, including on the psychological and mental side of people and involvement on the economic side,” he said, stressing how much the independents, traders and small businesses “struggling”, “suffering” and “dying”.
Pierre-Yves Jeholet also insisted on the health risk, according to him, of going abroad to buy, in neighboring countries that are reopening their trade. “Remember that every Belgian will make the trips to collect presents, to go shopping. And that, in terms of contamination, will be worse than not opening them, ”he said.
6:39 am: The number of patients in hospital continues to decline
Yesterday / Thursday, 4,395 Covid-19 patients were hospitalized, according to data released Friday morning by Sciensano. The number continues to fall, while 4,570 hospital beds were still occupied on Wednesday by patients infected with coronavirus.
Intensive care treated 1,034 patients on Thursday, 671 of whom required respiratory support. Here again, we see a drop in 24 hours. Over the last seven days, a daily average of 256.9 hospital admissions has been recorded, a decrease of 31%.
Over the period 17 to 23 November, an average of 2,764.6 infections were detected each day (-37%). Since the start of the epidemic, 567,532 cases have been detected in total. The outbreaks over 14 days reached 434.1 contamination per 100,000 residents.