Most of Belgium’s latest measures already took effect on Saturday, but some changes – concerning public events, sports competitions and schools – only came into force today.
The measures were decided on by the Consultative Committee last Friday, which called on the various Regional Ministers for Education and Youth to meet on Saturday to agree on stricter rules for schools and youth activities.
“For lots of events, groups of volunteers had organised themselves for [last] weekend. Those things are already set up,” said Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, explaining why the rules for events only took effect on Monday instead of on Saturday as the others did.
From today, indoor sports competitions – both professional and non-professional – may take place but without an audience. However, all minors can still be accompanied by two adults (usually their parents).
When organised indoors, events, activities such as cultural and other performances, sports training and congresses, can only take place if the audience – a maximum of 50 people excluding employees and organisers – is seated.
Additionally, people are required to show their Covid Safe Ticket (CST) and wear a face mask.
Outdoors, these same activities are allowed to be organised for an audience – seated or standing – of up to 100 people (not counting employees and organisers).
However, the organiser must take appropriate measures to ensure compliance with the rules of social distancing, in particular maintaining a distance of 1.5 metres between each group.
Mass events and pilot projects with an audience greater than 50 people indoors or 100 people outdoors (not counting co-workers and organisers), can only take place if they require a CST and have been approved by the local authorities.
For schools, extracurricular activities involving overnight stays will be scrapped until the Christmas holidays (in Dutch-speaking schools) or the Carnival holidays in March 2022 (in French-speaking schools), and class groups will not be allowed to congregate in canteens and study halls. However, they can still meet outside on playgrounds.
Within the classroom, pupils will be given a fixed seat, and the current face mask rules – mandatory for fifth and sixth-grade pupils in Dutch-speaking primary schools and for everyone in all of Belgium’s secondary schools – will remain in place.
The quarantine rules are being tightened too, as classes will have to go into quarantine from the moment that three infections (instead of four, previously) are found within a week. Additionally, schools are also given the option of switching entirely or partially to distance learning, or closing down.
Non-school related youth activities will also be more strictly regulated again, with the various Youth Ministers calling for activities to take place outside as much as possible.
If that is not possible, the maximum number of children allowed during indoor activities is 50, and groups are not allowed to mix with each other. Additionally, face masks should be worn by all children from the age of 10, unless “the nature of the activity” makes this impossible. Activities lasting several days and involving an overnight stay, such as camps, are not allowed to take place.
All these measures take effect today and will remain in place until at least 15 December, when the Consultative Committee will examine the situation and the measures again.
An overview of all measures that already came into force on Saturday 27 November can be found here.