Belgium's Consultative Committee is meeting again this afternoon to discuss the planned relaxations for July.
The Committee will meet in person from 2:00 PM, and its decisions will be announced during a press conference afterwards, the cabinet of Prime Minister Alexander De Croo confirmed to The Brussels Times.
Whenever "afterwards" will be is, as always, likely determined by how heated the debate is on the issues at hand.
Several subjects will be on the table, but the main focus is expected to be whether the relaxation of other measures, which were previously decided on, will get the green light, whether these will even be extended and whether other measures can be further relaxed.
Approving planned relaxations
During the announcement of the summer plan in May, De Croo explained that the following relaxations would be made from 1 July:
- Teleworking will no longer be mandatory but instead become recommended again
- Youth activities and camps will be allowed with a maximum of 100 participants, with overnight stays
- The maximum number of people allowed at events will rise to 2,000 indoors (depending on the capacity of the venue), and 2,500 outdoors
- For non-professional sports activities, all restrictions will be lifted
- For religious ceremonies, 200 people will be allowed indoors, and 400 outdoors
- People can shop with more than one person again, and the time limit of 30 minutes per store is no longer applicable
- Religious services, weddings and funerals may accommodate up to 200 people inside or 400 people outside, but these numbers could double
- Indoor parties and receptions with 100 people are possible again, following the same measures as the hospitality industry
For these relaxations to take place on 1 July, over 60% of adults have to be partially vaccinated (currently, this number sits at 62.8%) and the number of people in ICU should be below 500, which is the case for both.
On Thursday, De Croo said in parliament he wants to take rapid steps towards more freedom, but "we must maintain the necessary caution in the coming weeks and during the first weeks of July."
Bigger social bubbles?
According to reports from local media, the expansion of the social bubble both at home and in restaurants and bars is another matter which will be discussed.
"The hospitality sector has asked for the government to consider lifting all restrictions on closing times and the maximum number of people at one table," Matthias De Caluwe, CEO of Horeca Vlaanderen told Het Nieuwsblad, "but if restrictions are still needed, we would like to have 1:00 AM as closing time and a maximum of ten people at one table."
The ban on gathering with a maximum of ten people during the day and four at night could possibly disappear, according to VRT News.
Another discussion point for the meeting would be whether social bubbles can be expanded for large holiday homes, as just four people can stay together indoors at the moment, which harms the national tourism industry.
How travel will work
A less fixed item on the agenda is the approaching change to European Union-wide travel rules, and whether additional travel restrictions are needed for people coming from a country where the Delta variant is prominent, according to De Standaard.
As of 1 July, the EU Digital Covid Certificate will enter into force throughout the EU, which will make travelling to and from red zones within the EU possible, without having to quarantine upon return.
People travelling to and from third countries will be allowed to travel to Belgium for non-essential reasons without quarantining if they are fully vaccinated (+ 2 weeks) with a vaccine recognised by Europe and pass a PCR test on the day of arrival.
Lauren Walker & Jules Johnston
The Brussels Times