The Belgian Federation of Private Saunas is asking the government to allow its members to reopen their facilities on 1 February.
“There is a scientific consensus that private saunas do not present any risk of infection and yet we have been closed for almost three months,” the federation said on Thursday in a statement.
“Since the beginning of the pandemic, the government has been lumping public saunas together with private saunas. But this comparison is inaccurate. If you go to a private sauna, you go there with your bubble and no other person is present,” it added.
This point is in line with comments made by virologist Marc Van Ranst, who said in June that private saunas and wellness centres could reopen. “From a virological point of view, there is no reason to leave them closed,” he said.
The sector has said it does not understand why its establishments still have to keep their doors closed.
“Even outside of the coronavirus pandemic, private saunas and wellness centres are among the safest places imaginable. Vlarem standards (the Belgian hygiene standards decree ed.) are designed to ensure that bacteria and viruses don’t stand a chance. In addition to this, there are now strict protocols in place that require complete disinfection and ventilation of the space between each client.”
Additionally, the sector has been in discussions with the GEMS expert group advising the government last week, to adapt and finalise protocols for a safe reopening.
The federation launched a petition that collected nearly 1,600 signatures in just a few days, and hopes for a change in rules at the upcoming meeting of the Consultative Committee.
Belgium’s Consultative Committee is meeting on Friday afternoon to evaluate the current situation and measures, and discuss a possible timeline for reopening several sectors that have been affected by the pandemic.