From Monday 1 November, presenting the Covid Safe Ticket (CST) will become mandatory in all hospitality businesses and fitness centres throughout Belgium.
A valid CST proves that an individual has been fully vaccinated, recently tested negative or recovered from the virus in the past six months. It will be needed to gain access to bars, restaurants and gyms across the country.
"Nobody can ignore the figures. In our country and other countries, you see an autumn wave after a plateau,” Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said at the Consultative Committee press conference on Tuesday. "We need to build higher walls of protection, which ensure that our lives still go on. A free, but cautious life."
Where do you have to show a CST?
In addition to the hospitality and sports sectors, the Federal Government also introduced the CST for events from 200 people inside and 400 people outside. "When using the CST, the face mask obligation is dropped," the authorities stress.
This decision will bring Flanders in line with the rest of the country, as the rule has been in force in the Brussels-Capital Region since mid-October and Wallonia had already planned to implement it from 1 November.
However, Wallonia and Brussels remain a bit stricter, as they will also require a CST for trade fairs, conferences, the cultural sector, the healthcare sector, and in party venues from 50 people indoors and 200 people outdoors in addition to the federal measures.
Flanders is also considering requiring the CST in care institutions and other sectors (like cinemas), but the decree will only be voted on Friday at an extra plenary session in the Flemish Parliament.
How can you obtain a CST?
The easiest way to obtain your CST is to download and install the free CovidSafeBE app on your smartphone. After installation, log in with a digital ID (like Itsme) and your personal certificates are available to download and save, in the form of a QR code.
If you prefer to use a website, you can go to covidsafe.be, where you can find links to several government websites depending on the Region you live in, and download the pdf version of the certificate there.
When asked to show your CST to enter an establishment, you have to present the QR code for scanning. Usually, you will also be asked to show your identity card to prove you are not using someone else's CST.
Lastly, you can request to have a paper version of your vaccination or recovery certificate sent to you by post by calling the helpdesk. This is not possible for a CST based on a negative test, as the result will likely have expired before the certificate arrives.
Flemish residents should call 078 78 78 50, Walloons can call 071 31 34 93, and people living in the Brussels-Capital Region can 02 214 19 19. These helpdesks work via an automated process, meaning that requesting a CST is possible 24/7.
Some local authorities also offer help proactively, but that depends on the municipality you live in. More information can be found on their websites.
What if you do not have Belgian nationality?
For residents who do not have Belgian nationality, but do have a BIS number, obtaining a CST works in the same way as for Belgian citizens.
People who work in Belgium, such as expats, are registered in the national registers with that BIS number. This is a unique 11-digit identification number for people who are not Belgian citizens in the National Registry but still work in the country and can be found on people’s tax assessments or residence card, for example.
Additionally, a new European eIDAS (Electronic Identification And Trust Services) login method is now also available for those coming from an EU Member State that is a member of that programme. At the moment, this concerns the Czech Republic, Germany, Estonia, Spain, Croatia, Italy, Luxembourg, Latvia, Portugal and Slovakia.
Asylum seekers who have been fully vaccinated can apply for a CST by phone with their provisional residence permit (orange card) or "Annex 26." The exact procedure is explained on this website.
Those who have been vaccinated abroad will soon be able to apply for a temporary certificate with the necessary proof, says De Gelder of Digital Flanders, which developed the app.
"It will be valid for one month and only in Belgium," he told VRT. "The procedure to make this possible is currently being worked out."
From what age do you need a CST?
The exact age limit for the CST is not yet entirely clear, as the necessary legislation is yet to be published in the Belgian Official Journal. This is expected to happen by Friday 29 October.
However, the existing regulation may already offer some guidance, says De Gelder. "If we take the current regulation, the age limit for a CST in the hospitality and fitness sectors is 16 years. For events, it is 12 years. But we will have to wait until the legislation is published in the Official Journal."
Minors can also obtain a CST if they have a smartphone. They can download the CovidSafeBE app and register via Itsme (from their parents). They will have to give the mobile number of one of their parents or their legal guardian, who then has to give permission through their own Itsme app. After that, minors can download their CST on their smartphone.
Who will check if you have a CST?
As with the CO2 meters, inspectors from the Federal Public Economy Service will check whether fitness centres are asking for the CST. Their colleagues from the Federal Public Health Service will do the same for the hospitality industry.
Additionally, the police can be deployed to carry out checks on the application of the CST, but some police zones have already warned that they are not sure they will have time for it, alongside their other duties.
In Brussels, the police will check if the CST access controls are done correctly, a spokesperson for the Brussels-Capital/Ixelles police zone told Bruzz.
"Organisers or owners who do not abide by the rules can be fined from €50 to €2,500. For visitors or customers, there are fines from €50 to €500."