The use of the Covid Safe Ticket (CST) in Brussels was due to expire on 15 January. Now, it will likely be extended until mid-April after a vote was approved by the parliamentary Health Committee on Tuesday.
On 15 October 2021, the Brussels-Capital Region implemented the measure, making a valid CST mandatory in the catering industry, sports centres and gyms, cultural facilities and others, for people from the age of 16. Rule-breakers risk fines of between €50 and €500.
However, with infections surging the ordinance is now expected to be extended for another three months, according to reports from Bruzz.
Despite being approved by the vote in parliament, the opposition strongly criticised the lack of evaluation ahead of the extension.
“We are sceptical about the extension of the CST in Brussels and about the efficiency of this measure,” Jan Busselen of the socialist PVDA party told The Brussels Times.
Difficult to measure efficacy
The government has asked the Common Community Commission (Cocom) to evaluate whether the CST is effective in limiting infections but this report is not yet complete.
Maron noted the difficulty of calculating the effect the CST had on infection rates, as other preventative measures such as the indoor face mask obligation were simultaneously implemented.
According to microbiologist Emmanuel André, the introduction of the CST across Belgium did not necessarily increase the vaccination rate and may even have resulted in more coronavirus infections.
“The CST did not do what was expected of it. It didn’t really increase the vaccination rate but it did lead to more contacts, and thus indirectly to more infections – the two are connected,” André said in November.
Calling for inclusivity
Rather than extend the CST, Busselen endorses less exclusive measures, such as free self-tests. “We would like a more politically-inclusive debate.”
He cited other countries where health passes are not required to enter establishments and argued that this fosters solidarity among residents. “In Brussels, the tactic lacks coherence: we need a more social approach.”
The CST’s extension will most probably be approved in the vote on Friday. This will see it implemented until April.