What will change on 1 November?

What will change on 1 November?
From 1 November, the use of Covid Safe Tickets will be standardised in Belgium. Credit: Belga

With a new month comes new rules, from coronavirus measures to app updates for some mobile phones. Find out what changes on 1 November 2021.

Covid Safe Ticket (CST) introduced in Flanders and Wallonia

As of 1 November, people aged 16 and over will need to show a CST to prove that they have been fully vaccinated, recently tested negative, or have a certificate of recovery from Covid-19 to enter bars, restaurants, gyms, clubs and other establishments and events, across the whole of Belgium.

So far, the use of the CST was only expanded in Brussels. However, in mid-October Wallonia announced it would be following suit. Finally, during Tuesday's Consultative Committee, the government announced it would be standardising the measure across all regions.

The pass will also be needed to attend indoor events where at least 200 people are present and outside events attended by 400 people or more. However organisers of any event, no matter the number of participants, can choose to implement this measure.

It will not be required to use public transport, public services, go to school, enter shops and shopping centres, the workplace (despite some federations and politicians calling for it to be expanded there), or events authorised by the local authority.

Pharmacies can test people with Covid-19 symptoms

From 1 November, anyone who has had coronavirus symptoms for less than six days will no longer have to visit a doctor to take a test. Symptomatic people can also get tested at a centre or at pharmacies, which until now only carried out rapid antigen testing for people who want to travel or attend mass events.

A rapid antigen test taken at the pharmacy will be possible instead of a PCR test with results given in 15-30 minutes. However, a negative result will not be included on a person's CST.

This move followed calls from general practitioners, who recently warned they cannot keep up with testing patients with symptoms as the cold season kicked in, and pleaded for a change in the testing policy.

People displaying symptoms will be able to register their symptoms on an online form or in an app, after which an algorithm will decide whether a coronavirus test needs to be taken. If a test is needed, the person will receive a code to go to a test centre or pharmacy.

WhatsApp will no longer be available for some mobile phones

Starting in November, people who own Android phones that are running on Android 4.0.3 or older, and Apple iPhones that are running on iOS 9 or older will no longer be able to use WhatsApp.

A total of 43 smartphone models, including those made by Samsung, Apple, Huawei, LG, ZTE, Sony and others, will be unable to upgrade and will have to change phones if they want to continue using the application.

People can check the current version of Android on smartphones by launching the Settings app and going to the 'System' or 'About' menu. It may be newer software updates are available.

New central data platform for Belgian energy sector

On Monday, a new central data platform for the Belgian electricity and gas sector which has been in development for years will be launched by Atrias, a subsidiary of the Belgian distribution network operators.

The platform will collect all data (such as meter readings and invoices) from all energy organisations on the Belgian market from the distribution network operators to the suppliers.

Most households and companies will experience little to no inconvenience regarding the transition. However some customers, especially when changing suppliers, may face a delay of a maximum of two weeks.

This also means that between November and the end of December, no new installations will be set up for prepaid or budget meter customers.

Additional travel destinations

From 1 November, people from Belgium can once again travel to Israel and Thailand, as both countries announced they will be welcoming vaccinated tourists.

To travel to Thailand, travellers will have to show they are fully vaccinated and recently tested negative. Upon arrival, another test will have to be taken.

Following a negative result from this test, tourists from Belgium and 45 other countries included on the recently updated list will be allowed to travel to seventeen tourist hotspots, including the island of Phuket and the country's capital, Bangkok.

Meanwhile, the Israeli Government said that travellers who can present a vaccination certificate that is no more than six months old, as well as proof of a negative Covid-19 test, will be allowed to enter the country from Monday.

Chains or winter tyres compulsory in mountainous areas in France

All vehicles driving through most mountainous areas in France will have to be equipped with snow tyres, all-season tyres or chains from 1 November 2021 to 31 March 2022, the French Government announced.

The measure is being implemented in a total of 48 departments located in mountainous areas, including in the Alps, Jura Mountains and the Pyrenees, to improve people's safety during the winter.

Drivers of all light and commercial vehicles, motor homes, heavy goods vehicles and coaches will have to comply with the new measures. However, the public authorities will not yet fine people failing to comply in 2021.

"Any failure to comply with the obligation to carry snow chains in the boot or to fit winter tyres in the departments concerned will not be penalised this winter," the Interior Ministry stated.

From 2022, motorists could face a fine of €135 and the immobilisation of their vehicle if they do not comply with the rule.

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