Published on : Friday, November 19, 2021
Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said that Belgium is moving to extend mask-wearing and making home-working compulsory, after a meeting of regional and local leaders.
From Monday (November 22), employees who can will have to work from home at least four days a week. This will be reduced to three days from December 13.
The mask-wearing is to become compulsory in public places. Anyone over 10 years old must wear one on public transport, in bars and restaurants, theatres and cinemas, and at public events including those held outdoors.
Until now, health passes have allowed for masks to be taken off indoors. The pass is to be extended to Christmas markets, events with over 50 people indoors and 100 outdoors, and private events in bar restaurants.
The vaccinations for children aged between five and 11 will begin “as soon as possible” on a voluntary basis, following the green light from Belgian regulators and approval by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) which has been analysing the results of clinical tests of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on children.
Hospital admissions are going up at a rate of 30% per week and have reached their highest level since May. More than a quarter of hospital patients are in ICU, further straining the healthcare system.
Belgium has been in the midst of a spike in cases since about a month ago, when the government reimposed some restrictions, having relaxed them a few weeks earlier. However, infections have continued to rise, with more than 10,000 reported each day over the past week.