Belgium’s Consultative Committee will meet again this afternoon to discuss lifting nearly all restrictions still in force by switching to "code yellow" on the coronavirus barometer.
The Committee will meet from 13:00 and will be followed by a press conference, a spokesperson for Prime Minister Alexander De Croo confirmed to The Brussels Times.
While the defined preconditions to making the transition have not yet been reached (Belgium is still seeing some 131 Covid-19 hospitalisations per day instead of the 65 or fewer required), it is expected that the Committee will already move the country into code yellow today or next week.
All indicators have been decreasing for some time, but Corona Commissioner Pedro Facon still warned that the population should be careful not to "cheer too soon again." However, he also stated that the situation is currently "under control" – a statement underlined by Facon's announcement that he will end his Covid work next month.
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In code yellow, nearly all restrictions currently still in force – such as the maximum capacity at events, cinemas and theatres – will be lifted. Only the ventilation requirements remain in force, according to the barometer.
The most notable change is expected to be the disappearance of the Covid Safe Ticket (CST), which was required to gain access to events, the hospitality sector and gyms, among others. Belgium's regions, particularly Wallonia, intend to scrap the CST "immediately" after the announcement.
The end of face masks?
One issue that is still expected to remain on the table – contrary to what the authorities set out when they launched the barometer at the start of the year – is the obligation to wear a face mask, but only on public transport and in healthcare facilities.
Lastly, the Consultative Committee will likely also decide to end the so-called "federal phase" of pandemic management, meaning the Federal Government will no longer be in charge of the restrictions and the "state of emergency" will be over.
The bill for this is ready in Parliament and is expected to be approved as soon as possible after the Carnival holiday. In that case, the state of emergency could officially end on 11 March, just under two years after Belgium first went into lockdown.