Belgium extends all measures unchanged by Consultative Committee to 31 May
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Belgium extends all measures unchanged by Consultative Committee to 31 May

Credit: Belga

All Belgium’s coronavirus-fighting measures that were not adapted by last week’s Consultative Committee will be extended until 31 May, according to a press release from Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden.

Last week, the Consultative Committee announced changes to a number of measures starting from different dates, but some of the current rules will still remain in force until 31 May.

Specifically, it concerns the obligation to continue teleworking and the closure of certain venues, such as cinemas, concert halls or theatres for the culture and events sector.

On Friday 23 April, the Committee will meet again to discuss how to reopen the culture and event sector in a safe way on the one hand, and to set fixed rules for the hospitality sector on the other hand. In the meantime, however, both sectors have to remain closed.

Additionally, the Ministerial Decree for the package of measures decided by the Committee last week that will take effect on 26 April 2021 has not yet been published, “as there was time between the decision and the entry into force to submit this draft to the Legislation Section of the Council of State,” the press release reads.

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“Within the shortened period of five, extendable to eight, working days, the Council of State will give Minister Verlinden an urgent opinion,” it added.

The Ministerial Decree concerns the decision to end the so-called “Easter pause” on Monday 26 April, when non-medical contact professions (such as hairdressers) can restart and non-essential shops can reopen fully.

After receiving the Council of State’s opinion, Verlinden will finalise the Decree and publish it in the Belgian Official Journal as soon as possible.

Additionally, if the situation in the hospitals has improved sufficiently and 70% of over-65s have been vaccinated, the authorities’ “outdoor plan” can also enter into force, which will see the terraces allowed to reopen and the curfew lifted, among other things, from 8 May.

Verlinden also stressed that the measures decided on during the previous Committees always had to enter into force very quickly, which meant that there was insufficient time to request the opinion of the Legislation Section of the Council of State, even with an urgent procedure.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times