Flanders approves first relaxations for residential care centres
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Flanders approves first relaxations for residential care centres

Credit: Belga

Residential care centres in Flanders in which a sufficient number of people have been vaccinated will be allowed to relax some measures, the Flemish Covid-19 task force decided on Wednesday, based on earlier advice from the GEMS expert group.

These relaxations will only be possible in care homes where 90% of the residents and 70% of all staff have received both doses of a vaccine.

Each resident will be allowed to receive two so-called ‘cuddle contacts,’ which can change every two weeks, inside their rooms or in an appointed area in the centre specifically set up for visits.

“The task force is satisfied that there will be more freedom for those residents who have had little social contact in recent months,” said Karine Moykens, chairwoman of the Task Force for care.

“Residential care centres are not islands; they are in permanent contact with a society that still has some way to go in combatting the virus. More mutual contacts and more visits are possible, but must be combined with great caution in this initial phase,” she emphasised.

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The relaxations also apply to non-vaccinated people inside the care home, as they will be protected by the herd immunity within these vaccinated facilities.

However, the task force reiterated its previous suggestion for visitors to get a rapid test carried out before visiting these centres.

From ten days after the second dose onwards, residents can also start moving more freely around the facilities and can have more contact with each other, without needing to respect the social distance.

The task force said that eating together in the on-site restaurant will be permitted if the care homes fulfill the necessary requirements, but it encourages implementing fixed seating arrangements.

People from outside the care home still cannot enter the homes’ restaurants and cafeterias.

Residents will also be permitted to leave the centres again, where they will be allowed to gather in groups of maximum four people, just like other citizens.

All preventative (hygiene) measures between staff and residents and for visitors will remain in force.

Lauren Walker
The Brussels Times