Just to remember for the coming Winter holiday period

To avoid spreading the disease

Just to remember the rules to avoid spreading the disease.

All indicators (new infections, positivity rate, new hospital admissions, number of hospital beds occupied, number of new infections in residential care centres and number of deaths) showed a downward trend until the day before yesterday, which was encouraging. When the cyphers went down the evaluation of the alarm level on the 27 November 2020 was therefore reduced from sanitary emergency to level 4. However, the situation remained worrying as the decline was slow, the number of new hospital admissions remained high and there were still major outbreaks in residential care centres. The last few days we see again a rise of infections and people been taken into Intensive Care units. As a result, the pressure on care institutions and care providers remains high and people should be aware of the difficulties those health workers have to encounter.

The government has set rules to stop the spread of coronavirus. Follow these rules. This way, you will avoid becoming ill or making others ill. Thank you for following them. Together we’ll stop the coronavirus.

Christmas coronavirus rules

Non-essential shops may reopen as from 1 December 2020.

However, strict hygienic conditions apply:

  • Strict adherence to the basic rules such as washing hands, keeping your distance and wearing a face mask.
  • Preventative measures must be visibly displayed to all visitors, including staff and suppliers.
  • Hand sanitiser must be provided at the entrance; everyone entering the shop must sanitise their hands.
  • Staff must receive appropriate training.
  • Shopping must be done individually with one adult per shopping session. The company of children up to and including the age of 18 must be limited as much as possible.
  • Visits to a shop should be kept to a minimum and last no longer than 30 minutes.
  • Shops are responsible for managing the queues outside.  Shoppers queuing outside should be supervised to ensure that social distancing rules are respected. The organisation outside the shop is done according to the guidelines of the local authorities.

The conditions also relate to the maximum number of customers per square metre of accessible floor space:

  • For shops, the rule of one customer per 10 m² applies.
  • Shops with a surface area of less than 20 m² can allow a maximum of 2 customers at the same time, provided that social distancing rules are respected.
  • Large stores of more than 400 m² must provide for access control.
  • Access to shopping centres, shopping streets and car parks must be organised by the competent municipal authorities, in accordance with the instructions of the Minister of the Interior. This must be done in such a way that social distancing rules can be respected, in particular maintaining a distance of at least 1.5 meters between each person.

Museums and swimming pools may open in accordance with the protocol for their sector.

Christmas period

During the Christmas period, the social contact rules continue to apply. Singles will be able to receive both their contacts at the same time on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day in order to ensure their psychosocial well-being.

For gatherings outside, the rule of four (not including children up to the age of 12) continues to apply. There are six golden rules as instructions and not recommendations. They must therefore be adhered to by everyone.

Provisions of a protocol or guide which are less strict than the rules laid down in the Ministerial Order are not applicable.

The curfew between midnight and 5 a.m. remains in force, as does the ban on gatherings. The sale and use of fireworks will also be prohibited.

Work & economy

  • Teleworking is mandatory in all companies, associations and services for all staff unless this is not possible due to the nature of their role or because it would disrupt the continuity of business operations, activities and services.
  • Where teleworking cannot be applied, companies must take the appropriate measures:
    • ensuring maximum compliance with social distancing rules, and in particular that a distance of 1.5 m is maintained between each person;
    • if the social distancing rules cannot be guaranteed, ensuring at least an equivalent level of protection.
    • the employer provides staff members who are unable to work from home with a certificate or any other evidence confirming the need for their presence at the workplace. This applies to all sectors and businesses. This certificate or other form of evidence may be an existing document or card (e.g. a badge) belonging to the staff member concerned.
  • Face-to-face team building sessions are prohibited.

The application of these principles must be guaranteed at company level and developed by taking preventative measures as defined in the “Generic guide for combatting the spread of COVID-19 at work” (available at: https://employment.belgium.be/sites/default/files/content/documents/Coronavirus/Genericguide.pdf ); possibly supplemented by:

  • guidelines at sectoral level;
  • and/or guidelines at company level; and/or other appropriate measures offering at least an equivalent level of protection. Collective measures always take precedence over individual measures. Exceptions to the general principles:

For private and public companies and services necessary for the protection of the vital interests of the Nation and the needs of the public (see Annex to the Ministerial Order of 28 October 2020)

  • Teleworking is mandatory in all companies for all staff unless this is not possible due to the nature of their role or because it would disrupt the continuity of business operations, activities and services.
  • In addition, these companies and services are obliged to apply, to the extent possible, the social distancing rules.

This exception also applies to producers, suppliers, contractors and subcontractors of goods, works and services which are essential to the activity of those companies and to the provision of those services.

Medical or paramedical close-contact professions

Medical or paramedical close-contact professions and occupations regarded as ‘necessary for the protection of the vital interests of the Nation’ (included in the Annex to the Ministerial Decree, JC 330) may be carried out, even at home, such as dentists, psychologists, physiotherapy, home nursing, maternity care, family care, palliative home care and essential hair care for people with a medical condition. Podiatrists may still provide foot care. In addition, foot care that is urgent due to medical reasons can be provided by professionals other than podiatrists. For those service providers who are able to resume their activities, the rules applicable vary according to the place or the type of service provided:

A. On site

Service providers may offer their services to consumers in the areas of the company or association that are accessible to the public, subject to compliance with the fourteen minimum rules listed above.

B. At home

Only businesses, private and public companies and services considered necessary for the protection of the vital interests of the Nation and the needs of the population (as listed in the Annex to the Ministerial Order) may offer their services at the consumer’s home (e.g. lawyers, architects, plumbers and heating engineers), provided they respect the social distancing measures.

C. In public spaces;

If an authorised service were to be offered in public spaces, both the rules on gatherings and those on social distancing must be respected. The service provider can therefore only offer their services to a maximum of three other people (older than 12 years) at the same time.

For example, a private coach can train with three clients outside and a photographer can organise a photo shoot with three clients outside.

Tighter travel control

People who have stayed abroad for more than 48 hours and will stay in Belgium for more than 48 hours will be subject to stricter controls. They must:

  • Fill in the Passenger Locator Form
  • Comply with the mandatory quarantine

All the above measures are applicable until 15 January 2021. At the beginning of January, an evaluation will be made on the basis of the medical indicators to see whether a transition to the management phase is possible and for which sectors.

Infection and protection

The hygiene measures are adapted over time, according to the evolution of the pandemic, scientific knowledge and insight. The most up-to-date information is available at the following address: https://covid-19.sciensano.be/nl

Everyone, with the exception of children up to the age of 12, is obliged to cover their mouth and nose with a face mask or any other fabric alternative in all situations where it is impossible to ensure compliance with the rules of social distancing. This last obligation does not apply to:

  • people living under the same roof;
  • children mixing up to the age of 12;
  • people meeting each who have close contact on a regular basis;
  • counsellors and their clients (people in need of counselling).

In addition, wearing a face mask is compulsory in a number of places, regardless of the number of people present there:

  • On public transport from entering the airport, the station, on the platform or a bus, (pre-)metro, tram, train stop or any other means of transport organised by a public authority. Public transport drivers are not required to cover their nose and mouth, insofar as the driver is well-isolated in a cabin on the one hand, and a poster and/or sticker indicates to users the reason why the driver is not wearing a mask on the other;
  • For supervisors of camps, training sessions and activities that are allowed;
  • The establishments and places where catering activities are permitted, both for customers and staff, unless whilst eating, drinking or sitting at a table;
  • In shops and shopping centres;
  • In shopping streets, at markets and in any private or public are with significant footfall, which is determined by the competent local authority and demarcated by a notice specifying the times at which the obligation applies;
  • In conference rooms, auditoriums and places of worship & reflection;
  • In libraries, game and multimedia libraries;
  • in museums;
  • In places of worship and buildings intended for the public practice of non-denominational moral services;
  • When moving around in public and non-public parts of courthouses and courtrooms and, in other cases, in accordance with the guidelines laid down by the Chairman.

When it is not possible to wear a face mask or any fabric alternative due to medical reasons, a face shield can be worn.

People who are unable to wear a face mask, a fabric alternative or a face shield due to a disability, substantiated by a medical certificate, do not have to comply with this obligation. It should be noted, once again, that wearing a face mask is an additional protection that does not exempt people from applying the six golden rules for individual behaviour.

  1. respect hygiene measures;
  2. perform activities outside where possible;
  3. be considerate to vulnerable people;
  4. keep 1.5 metres distance; 5 limit your close contacts;
  5. follow the rules concerning gatherings. For more information about fabric face masks, please visit: https://www.info-coronavirus.be/nl/mondmasker/ However, wearing gloves is not recommended, as it gives a false sense of security, people still touch their nose, mouth and eyes if they are wearing gloves, whereby they can still get infected. It is much better to regularly wash hands with soap and water.

About Guestspeaker

A joint effort of several authors who do find that nobody can keep standing at the side and that “Everyone" must care about what is going on in today’s world. We are a bunch of people who do not mind that somebody has a totally different idea but is willing to share the ideas with others and to be Active and willing to let others understand how "today’s decisions will influence the future”. Therefore we would love to see many others to "Act today".
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2 Responses to Just to remember for the coming Winter holiday period

  1. Pingback: The self and the other in times of insecurity | From guestwriters

  2. Pingback: Undermining security and democracy via the Internet | Marcus Ampe's Space

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