Despite reports to the contrary, it will be possible to dance without wearing a mask in nightclubs from this Saturday, Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke told VRT radio.
As it stands, the rules allowing self-tests to replace masks in nightlife venues have not yet come into force, the Mediahuis newspapers reported on Saturday morning. For this to happen, a cooperation agreement between the various governments in the country must be amended, and this could take several days, Belga News Agency reports.
According to Minister Vandenbroucke, however, this is not a problem
“We are not going to wait (for the agreement). We are a complicated country and the legislation is always complicated, but the agreement is that we are not going to wait for it,” he explained.
As such, Vandenbroucke said masks will not be compulsory in a nightclub from this Saturday onwards, but on one condition.
“You use the coronapass correctly, you check it carefully. The second condition is that you organise a self-test and check it yourself. You only let in those who, in addition to the Covid Safe Ticket, can also prove that the self-test is negative,” the minister explained.
What’s the issue then?
Since 7:00 AM on Saturday, strict rules have been applied to nightlife: in principle, everyone must wear a mask when walking or dancing. But as this would be impractical, the Consultative Committee came up with an alternative on Wednesday.
The mask can be removed in discos and dance halls where a negative self-test is presented in addition to the Covid Safe Ticket.
But, according to the Mediahuis newspapers, the Royal Decree containing the latest measures and published by Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden on Friday completely undermines this regulation. One of the paragraphs states that “the obligation to wear a mask does not apply in these establishments provided that access is organised using certified negative self-tests as soon as the applicable cooperation agreement, as amended, allows it”.
This wording means that this cooperation agreement between the different governments still needs to be amended.
This agreement forms the legal basis for the request for personal and medical information. It is now a matter of adding a clause that legally enshrines that a bouncer in a discotheque can request a self-test to access the establishment.
It was feared that for dance halls and discos, they are acting illegally if they ask for a self-test this weekend.
Vandenbroucke nevertheless urges caution, encouraging people to be very careful by avoiding multiple contacts, meeting outside or wearing a face mask, for example. Anyone going to an event with more than 50 participants should make sure that health passes are used seriously, he recommends. He advises against going to a nightclub if no self-testing is organised at the entrance.
The minister also urges caution at private parties. Masks are compulsory at private parties of 50 people or more, he said, and he also advised that self-tests should be available at the entrance, although this is not compulsory.