Belgium Unlocked

What changes in Belgium on 1 October?

What changes in Belgium on 1 October?
Credit: Belga

It's the start of a new month and as usual, Belgium introduces various changes and reforms. From the deferral of mortgage payments to adjustments to the highway code, here's what changes on 1 October.

Second booster for all Brussels adults

From Saturday, Brussels residents aged 18 and over can also receive a second booster dose of the Covid-19 vaccine as part of the autumn vaccination campaign. This will also be the case in Wallonia; in Flanders, invitations have already been sent to a larger group.

The autumn campaign started on Monday 12 September, but Brussels and Wallonia initially targeted residents over the age of 50 before inviting all over-18-year-olds.

Mobile teams and local vaccination points near pharmacies will oversee the administration. The four vaccination centres are located in Forest, Molenbeek, Pacheco and Woluwé-Saint-Pierre.

Increasing social tariffs

The social tariffs – favourable rates that provide eligible households with financial assistance – will increase in the fourth quarter of this year by an average of 7.8% for electricity and 9.9% for natural gas.

The latest price update published by the Commission for Electricity and Gas Regulation (Creg) calculates the single tariff for electricity will be 26.510 cents per kilowatt-hour (including VAT), compared to the current 24.613 cents. For natural gas, the social tariff will be 3.4 cents per kWh (also including VAT), compared to 3.093 cents at present.

Without the price caps of the tariffs, these would rise 41% on average for electricity and 276% for natural gas.

At the start of this month, the Federal Government decided to extend the social tariff until 31 March 2023 to help people struggling to pay their energy bills. Those entitled to the living wage, tenants of social housing or recipients of the income guarantee for the elderly are eligible for the reduced tariff. Find out here whether you are entitled to it.

Deferral of mortgage payments kicks in

Among the measures that aim to help deal with the cost of living crisis, banks will lend a helping hand by allowing mortgage payments to be deferred for individuals, subject to conditions.

Deferrals can be requested from 1 October until 31 March 2023, meaning that eligible individuals will not have to make any capital repayments for 12 months. However, the interest will remain in place.

To benefit from this measure, the loan must have been taken out for the borrower's main residence and the total of the movable assets on all the accounts (savings, current accounts and investment portfolio) must not exceed €10,000.

Driving

From Saturday, a number of rules will be added to Belgium's highway code, while several existing rules will be adapted.

This will see the sign prohibiting the use of cruise control disappear from the country's major motorways and the creation of the 'middle lane' for cyclists if a road isn't wide enough for a cycle path in each direction. A new sign will be created as well, indicating that only bicycles can park in a particular zone between 07:30 and 18:00, while cars can park at night.

End to anonymous betting

Saturday will also mark the end of anonymous gambling: betting agencies will have to register the identity of their clients and check that they are not on the list of people who have been banned from betting.

This is one of several measures taken this year (such as the spending limit for online gambling of €200) to protect people better from gambling addiction – especially minors and those who are more vulnerable.


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