Measures taken by the National Security Council of 27 July 2020

Additional measures to strengthen the double strategy to fight the Corona virus’ resurgence

The National Security Council, extended to include the ministers-president, met today in view of the evolution of the epidemiological situation, which is permanently monitored.

Based on the new health information, a new report was requested from Celeval last weekend.

On the basis of this report, it was decided to strengthen the double strategy – national and local – introduced last week to tackle the resurgence of the virus.

National approach

To this end, it is decided that the following measures shall apply from Wednesday 29 July and for at least four weeks (until the end of August):

  • Until now, the social bubble for each individual was limited to 15 people per week. As of Wednesday, the bubble will consist of the same 5 people for the next four weeks and for an entire family, so no longer per individual. Children under the age of twelve are not included in this count. These 5 people are individuals you are allowed to have close contacts with, in addition to the members of your household. In other words, they are contacts with whom social distancing does not always have to be respected.
  • Non-facilitated get-togethers such as gatherings of family or friends are limited to a maximum of 10 people (excluding children under the age of 12). This limit also applies to receptions and banquets.
  • Regarding events that are supervised and follow standard protocols, mayors are responsible for a meticulous re-assessment of the activities they organise or have already authorised on their territory, taking into account the epidemiological evolution. In any case, events with a large audience will be strictly limited to a maximum of 100 people indoors and 200 people outdoors and wearing a face mask will be mandatory. Such events are also only allowed if the safety regulations and protocols are strictly adhered to.
  • Working from home is strongly recommended where possible in order to avoid too much contact between colleagues.
  • The rules that previously applied in shops, i.e. doing your shopping alone (or accompanied by a minor living under the same roof or a person in need of help) for a maximum of 30 minutes (except by appointment), are reinstated.
  • To avoid crowing throughout the country, the measure to grant citizens free train tickets has been postponed until September.
  • Contact tracing will be reinforced in certain specific situations where the epidemiological risk is higher because of individuals being “active”, i.e. mobile or exercising. Contact details are also requested at these locations, such as in wellness centres and at sports lessons. A full list of the locations concerned will be published in the Ministerial Order. They will be subject to the same obligations as the hospitality industry.

Local approach

The National Security Council urges local authorities to take strong measures if the epidemiological situation on their territory deteriorates. They will receive epidemiological data from the regional authorities and will have scope to intervene if the situation so requires.

 

Source: belgium.be 

New Covid-19 measures by the National Security Council

Masks, restaurants, travelling… Belgium steps up the fight against the virus.

The fight against the coronavirus is far from over. The National Security Council (NSC) published new measures.

The evolution of the health situation required new and stricter actions, NSC members said on Thursday.

Phase 5 postponed

Although a certain relaxation of the measures was planned for 1st August, this will not finally happen. In view of the concerning development of the epidemic, the National Security Council has postponed phase 5 of the de-escalation. As a result, the maximum number of people for celebrations and events with indoor and outdoor audience will remain the same.

As announced at the end of June, the maximum number of people in celebration rooms is therefore 50, while events are limited to 200 participants indoors and 400 outdoors.

This deferral is also bad news for event organisers, who will not be able to resume their activities on 1st August. If the epidemiological situation allows it, these activities are expected to resume on 1st September.

Masks 

The use of the mask is already mandatory in places such as cinemas or public transport, and in others it will also start to be mandatory from Saturday.

Specifically, the use of the mask will be required in markets, street markets, fairs, public buildings and commercial streets.

More generally, the mask will have to be worn in all highly-transited areas, private or public, which will be determined by the municipal authorities. It is also strongly recommended in other cases, especially in situations where safety distance cannot be ensured.

Horeca

In restaurants and cafes, the use of masks will also increase, as this protection will become mandatory everywhere except at the table.

Another new feature will be that customers will be required to leave a telephone number or e-mail address to follow up of possible contaminations. The data collected will have to be destroyed after 14 days and cannot be used for any other purpose than fighting the epidemic, said Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès. A standard form allowing this information to be collected will be available from Saturday on the FPS Economie website.

In view of the excesses observed in certain establishments (non-compliance with the safety distance, illegal parties, etc.), controls will also be reinforced.

Night shops

The night shops will have to close at 10 p.m. The idea of this measure is to fight the temptation of some customers to visit these shops after the restaurants and bars close.

Increasing the role of mayors

At the local level, mayors will now have “the necessary margin of manoeuvre” to take stronger action if the situation requires it, stated Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès.

In other words, the introduction of small-scale lockouts is not out of the question. However, local authorities will have to consult the regions and governors before taking additional protective measures.

Each of the regions has a phased programme of action that may be adopted by the mayors depending on the situation in their locality.

Travellers

For travellers, the rules will now be a little more clear. An online form will soon be available on the Foreign Affairs website. Anyone travelling abroad for more than 48 hours will need to fill it in from 1st August.

This “Passenger Location Form” will be valid for everyone, regardless of the means of transport used.

As far as the “orange” zones are concerned, the NSC continues to recommend a period of quarantine and the performance of the test, measures which are compulsory for travellers returning from the “red” zones.

Social bubble

The social bubble of 15, the number of people you can keep in touch with each week, remains the same. However, its maintenance depends on everyone respecting the rules, the Prime Minister warned.

In Flemish nursing homes, visits are still allowed, but physical contact between visitors and residents is now prohibited.

In addition, each citizen must list all persons with whom he or she has had close contact each week.

Golden rules

In addition to these new measures, the Prime Minister has once again insisted that the six golden rules be respected. These rules are not “an advice, but a set of instructions”.

They include washing hands regularly, encouraging outdoor activities, being extremely cautious in the presence of people in risk groups and keeping a safety distance (1.5 metres) when possible.

Although repeated over and over again, these measures have probably been less followed in recent weeks. As a result, the NSC has just stepped up the pace again.

 

SOURCE: L’Echo.be

Comercial opportunities in Belgium and Luxembourg after COVID-19

COVID-19 has had a very different impact in Belgium and Luxembourg marked by a light lockdown and strong determination by public administration to support its business and protect employment. This health crisis has been without any doubt a mayor disruptive factor that highlighted some existing tendencies already putting in place in both markets. That is why, despite the limited uncertainty, some opportunity window seem to be opening in the next months in Belgium and Luxembourg in the upcoming months making them two very interesting destinations for internationalization strategies for Spanish companies.

In this context, the Chamber has developed a series of collaborations with various Spanish territorial chambers to present the Belgian and Luxembourg markets to Spanish companies. In particular, presentations were made for the Chamber of Commerce of Pontevedra, Vigo and Villagarcía de Arousa, Madrid Network and the Chambers of Commerce of Zaragoza and Mallorca. Throughout these webinars, the main sectors of interest in each country were presented and a series of recommendations were given to companies interested in internationalizing their product or service.

The internationalization of companies will be a key element for their survival in the post-Covid situation.

During the months of September and October, the Chamber is planning new presentations.

These are the dates:

In collaboration with the Chamber of Commerce of Huelva, September 15th at 12:00

In collaboration with the Chamber of Commerce of Gran Canaria, 17th September at 11:00

In collaboration with the Chambers of Avilés, Gijón and Oviedo, 30th September at 11:00

In collaboration with the Chamber of Commerce of Huesca, October 1st at 9:00

In collaboration with the Chamber of Commerce of La Rioja, 6th October at 9.30am.

The Interinstitutional Concertation Committee extends the obligation to wear a mask in Belgium

The Interinstitutional Concertation Committee held a meeting on Thursday 9 July in the presence of the members of the Exit Strategy Expert Group (GEES). On this occasion, the members presented a new report to the political leaders in which they recommend the extension of the mandatory use of the mask. They agree with the opinion issued by the Superior Council of Health. On this basis, the Interinstitutional Concertation Committee decided to extend the compulsory use of masks, therefore following the new recommendations of the GEES.

As a reminder, the use of the mask was already compulsory in a limited number of situations, such as in public transport or in the exercise of a profession with close contact with the public (hairdressing, etc.) for instance.

From Saturday 11 July, the use of the mask will also be compulsory:

– in shops and shopping centres;

– in cinemas, theatres, concert halls, conference rooms, auditoriums, places of worship, museums, and libraries

This list could change over time, depending on the epidemiological situation in Belgium. The use of masks is still recommended in other situations.

Citizens who do not respect the obligation to wear a mask in the cases mentioned above may be subject to penal sanctions as stipulated in the ministerial decree. In addition, this decree will specifically consider the possibility to close establishments which repeatedly violate the current rules.

As a reminder, the mask is not compulsory for children under 12 years old. Particular provisions are also made for persons who cannot wear a mask for medical reasons.

A National Electronic Safety Council will ratify this decision on Friday 10th.

The authorities recall and insist that the mask is an additional protection that does not dispense with the six “golden rules” of deconfinement, namely:

– Apply hygiene measures such as regular hand washing;

– Encourage open-air activities;

– Pay particular attention to vulnerable groups;

– Maintain a safety distance of 1.5m as far as possible;

– Limit the number of contacts (15 people per week);

– Limit the size of meetings (15 people).

These six golden rules remain the first line of defence against the virus.

Extension of the agreement with Belgium on the social security affiliation of cross-border workers teleworking until August 31st, 2020

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in Luxembourg, many companies have implemented measures to increase the use of the telework. However, working from the home for cross-border workers may have consequences for their affiliation to social security under the provisions of European legislation for the coordination of the social security systems of Member States.

Romain Schneider, Minister of Social Security, from the beginning of the crisis contacted his Belgian, German and French counterparts to find an agreement to avoid an affiliation change if a certain threshold was exceeded (a 25% according to the EU regulation) for workers and employees affected. Following these contacts, it was decided that, in view of the current exceptional situation, the days of telework due to the COVID-19 crisis would not be taken into account for the determination of the social security legislation applicable to the workers in question, and therefore would have no influence on your affiliation to social security.

This agreement has just been extended with Belgium until August 31st, 2020. With regard to France and Germany, an official response should soon arrive.

Romain Schneider points out: “The extension of this agreement is a strong gesture of solidarity from our neighboring countries. Telework is an important tool in the fight against the spread of COVID-19, so companies and employees must be able to continue without suffer any undesirable consequences. I am sure that France and Germany will also support this approach by extending the agreement that we have had so far”.

 

Communicate of the Ministry of Social Security

 

Source: Gouvernement.lu

Launch of phase 4 de-escalation, starting July 1st in Belgium

Press release by Sophie Wilmès, Prime Minister

The National Security Council extended with the Ministers-presidents of the regions, agreed for a transition to phase 4 of the de-escalating since July 1st, based on the agreement of the GEES experts that is based on the good evolution of the epidemiological situation.

The six golden rules are still in force:

  • Respect for hygiene rules.
  • Prioritize outdoor activities.
  • Take extra precautions for those at risk.
  • Respect for safety distances.
  • The “extended bubble” rule that increases from 10 to 15 different people per week in addition to the co-living. As a reminder, this right is individual.
  • Group activities cannot exceed 15 people, children included. This applies to all unsupervised meetings, regardless if they take place at home or outdoors.

It will now be possible to open under certain conditions:

  • Pools and wellness centers.
  • Amusement parks and indoor playgrounds.
  • Theatres and cinemas.
  • Casinos and game rooms.
  • Conference rooms.
  • Reception and party rooms with a maximum of 50 people.

Among the conditions is the application of protocols. In addition, the general rules that are already in force for other activities will be applied, such as the mandatory respect of safety distances, the establishment of time slots and crowd management, the cleaning of infrastructure and the use of mouth masks, which continues to be highly recommended.

Activities that cannot be restarted at this stage:

  • Nightlife activities such as disco clubs.
  • Massive events.

However, it will be possible to organize activities from July 1st in front of an audience, under certain conditions established in the protocols.

For regular events organized in permanent structures such as theaters, cinemas, galleries, congress halls, protocols will be drawn up with competent ministers and experts from GEES.

For specific events in the public space, an online tool will be available on July 1st and will serve as a reference for local authorities in granting authorizations for these events. Specific rules should also apply.

For all these events, there is a capacity limit set at:

  • 200 people inside.
  • 400 people outdoors.

This capacity limit will be re-evaluated in August to 400 people indoors and 800 outdoors maximum if the health situation allows it. An exception can be requested for permanent infrastructure with a public sitting to exceed this limit, respecting health regulations.

The maximum number of outdoor participants will also apply to demonstrations. These should always be subject to a request for authorization from local authorities. In any case, they must always be static and take place in a place where safety distances can be respected.

At the same time, in addition to the resumption of these activities, certain protocols will be relaxed as of July 1st:

  • Possibility of going to the stores with people from your contact bubble and without time limitation. The safety distance will continue to apply.
  • Elimination of the limit on the number of positions for the markets. Health protocols and regulations must continue to apply.

With respect to the next National Day, it was decided that the traditional military and civil parade would take another form exceptionally to meet health standards. In fact, different artistic performances in symbolic places will highlight our country and its artists and will be broadcast on television. Detailed communication will be made later on this topic.

On the longer-term perspective, the start of the school year is already in full swing. The ministers of education, in collaboration with the GEES experts, have established a colour code system that indicates how the school should be organized according to the health situation. Education ministers will explain the plan in more detail at a press conference.

 

Source: Info-coronavirus.be

Agreement reached in limited cabinet: here are the new measures in the federal aid plan

On Friday night, an agreement was reached within the “superkern”, the Federal Government and the ten parties that support the special powers destined to fight Covid-19, after several hours of meeting. The text was not validated by the N-VA. The Flemish nationalist party did not sign the joint statement sent shortly before 22:00.

“Today’s agreement reinforces the social and environmental measures taken last week. The nonsense proposals pushed by the N-VA have been completely rejected”, Ecolo co-chair Jean-Marc Nollet said on Twitter.

On June 6th, the ten parties approved a first set of measures. Later it was agreed to identify in a second step what could complement this system. That was the work that was carried out during the meeting this Friday.

The new support measures, protagonists of the agreement can be classified into two categories, indicates the press release signed by the government parties (MR, Open Vld and CD&V), with the support of the Socialists (PS and sp.a), environmentalists (Ecolo-Groen), CD&V, cdH and Défi.

 

The first category refers to investment support.

  • The superkern has decided to establish a new temporary Covid-19  tax shelter system until the end of the year, open to all SMEs that have been affected by the Covid-19 crisis.
  • An investment deduction increased by 25% is provided for investments made between March 12th and December 31st, 2020.
  • The nine parties have also decided to increase the deductibility of expenses related to the organization of events and catering from 50 to 100% until December 31st.
  • The superkern has also decided to suspend the payment of VAT from December 2020 and increase from 10 to 20% the share of net income that can benefit from the reduction of subsidy taxes.
  • At the same time, the tax reduction for donations made in 2020 to approved institutions will decrease from 45 to 60%.

 

The second category refers to the organization of work, according to the statement.

  • The nine parties have decided to create adapted Corona unemployment, which consists of a transition between temporary unemployment due to the force majeure Corona and classic economic unemployment. This transitional economic unemployment can be used if the company shows a 10% drop in its turnover. The worker will follow two days of unemployment training per month and will continue to receive 70% of their last maximum salary.
  • It was also decided to offer companies in restructuring or in difficulties the possibility of reducing working hours pending the resumption of normal activity and to avoid layoffs, either through a collective reduction in working time, either through the time credit system, or through the time credit at the end of the degree, whose accessibility will be reduced from 57 to 55 years.
  • In addition, the Corona parental leave will run until September 30th with a subsidy increased to 150% for single parent families and families with a child with a disability.
  • It was also decided to facilitate the reimbursement of the costs incurred by teleworkers, up to a maximum of 127 euros per month.

 

In addition to these measures, an agreement was also reached to release funds of 100 million euros for the CPAS to be dedicated to people in difficulties in order to extend the benefit of the social measures decided during the previous meeting to a more public comprehensive, especially from the point of view of energy poverty. To cover the operating costs linked to an additional workload, the CPAS will receive an additional aid of 10 million euros.

 

Source: Rtl.be

Agreement between the social partners on the conditions for granting partial unemployment within the framework of the exit from the state of crisis

Under the joint presidency of Dan Kersch, Minister of Labour, Employment and Social Solidarity Economy, and Franz Fayot, Minister of Economy, the social partners represented on the one hand by OGBL President Nora Back and LCGB President Patrick Dury, and on the other hand by the President of UEL, Nicolas Buck, agreed on June 9th the new modalities to grant partial unemployment to companies affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

With the end of the crisis state, the emergency procedures established to help companies through a special mechanism of partial unemployment by “force majeure COVID-19” will expire. The meeting agreed that companies affected by the health crisis should continue to receive support through partial unemployment, preserving as many jobs as possible.

Taking into account that a good number of companies will continue to suffer the negative effects of the health crisis beyond the end of the crisis state, it has already been decided to continue supporting them with the instrument of partial unemployment until the end of the current year.

To take into account the fact that certain sectors have been more severely affected and will delay the return to the same level of activity as before the health crisis or will not achieve it in the near future, four possible ways of benefiting from the agreement were agreed upon partial unemployment:

 

  1. Industrial companies will continue to benefit from the cyclical scheme of short-term unemployment to be able to react to shocks in international markets. By applying the system of partial unemployment from cyclical sources, industrial companies undertake not to fire workers for economic reasons.
  2. The social partners have recognized the particularly difficult situation of companies in vulnerable sectors that continue to be strongly affected by the COVID-19 crisis. Therefore, companies in the hotel, tourism and events sectors will be able to benefit from rapid access to partial unemployment from a structural source, without limiting the number of employees who will be entitled to it. If necessary, these companies may resort to economic dismissals within the maximum limit of 25% of their employees until December 31, 2020. The social partners have explicitly insisted on the fact that the provisions of general jurisdiction provided for by the Code of the Labour Law relating to collective dismissal remain fully applicable. The social partners have agreed that, in the event of a return to an improvement in activity, the companies that have carried out layoffs must, in the event of subsequent recruitment of staff, rehire their former laid-off employees as a matter of priority.
  3. Companies affected by the health crisis, in addition to industrial companies and those from vulnerable sectors, can also resort to short-term work from structural sources along the accelerated route provided, however, without dismissing workers. This measure aims to preserve the jobs in the companies involved as best as possible. In this case, however, the number of employees covered by partial unemployment cannot exceed 25% in the months of July and August, 20% in September and October, and 15% in November and December. In this context, an employee is defined as each employee who has been declared partially unemployed during the current month, regardless of the number of hours of partial unemployment.
  4. Finally, the demands of companies in vulnerable sectors that lay off more than 25% of their workers, as well as those of all the other companies that want to make layoffs, must submit a “traditional” application for partial unemployment.

 

In fact, it was agreed in these situations that admission to the partial unemployment regime could only be granted if the companies proceeded to establish restructuring plans. These plans will be established in the form of a recovery plan in the case of small companies of less than fifteen people, respectively, and in the form of a job retention plan in accordance with the provisions of Article L. 513-1 et seq. Labour Code for companies that employ more than fifteen employees.

The social partners expressed their willingness to negotiate as far as possible the sectoral plans for job retention to use the temporary labour loan instrument.

All these proposals for partial unemployment were approved by the Government in the Council.

The Economic Committee also reserves the right to give negative notice to requests from companies that are clearly not affected at all or only slightly by the health crisis.

The secretariat of the Economic Committee is in the process of implementing, in collaboration with the services of the State Center for Information Technology (CTIE) and ADEM, computer applications to send applications as described above electronically through the myGuichet.lu platform.

Accurate information for business, staff and employee delegations will be quickly prepared and made available on the Guichet.lu website.

 

Communicated by the Ministry of Economy / Ministry of Labor, Employment and Social and Solidarity Economy

 

Source: Gouvernement.lu

Agreement by Kern+10 on measures to support the purchasing power of Belgians and sectors in difficulty

Following the meeting of the restricted Council of Ministers, extended to the ten political groups supporting the Federal Government, a series of support measures were agreed for the third part of the Federal Plan for Social and Economic Protection.

 

The first “package” refers to the measures that had already been adopted by the federal government and that will be extended beyond their initial deadline. The most important measures are:

  • Temporary unemployment due to force majeure “Corona”
  • The transition right for self-employed workers
  • Parental leave Corona

These measures are extended until 31st August.

Other measures are also extended, such as the suspension of the progressive reduction of the unemployment benefits, the package of measures destined to artists, the subsidy of 3 million euros to the CPAS in the framework of food aid and the allowances linked to the donations of IT material for schools.

Four specific support measures have been identified for the sectors in difficulty, including HoReCa, to cushion the socio-economic consequences of a gradual recovery in their activity. These are:

 

  • An extension and upgrade of the transition right until 31st August 2020 and extendable until 31st December 2020
  • At the same time, an extension of the temporary unemployment until 31st December 2020
  • In order to enable hotel and restaurants to improve their financial situation, a reduction of VAT to 6% until 31st December 2020 on all provisions of services, except alcoholic drinks
  • In the most affected sectors that have been forced to use the temporary unemployment, an agreement has been reached to grant a partial exemption from the payment of the withholding tax on salary income for the next three months, in order to encourage the return of workers who are currently in temporary unemployment.

With respect to the solvency of companies, the bank guarantee measure will be extended. The arrangements for extending the scope of the intervention to SMEs will be discussed in the Parliament shortly. The proposals for supporting artists will also be discussed next week.

The purchasing power of Belgians was also at the centre of the discussion. The intention of the meeting parties was to create a positive dynamic, first of all in favour of citizens, but also in favour of the country’s economic activity.

  • The employer may grant a 300 euro Consumption voucher to the sectors most affected by the crisis to buy goods and services in sectors such as the hotel industry, culture, etc. This voucher will be 100% deductible and tax free.
  • A complementary social aid of 6×50 euros (monthly) to the beneficiaries of a social integration income, disabled people and pensioners who benefit from the Grapa. This exceptional aid to the most vulnerable families will enable them to cope with their difficulties.
  • All residents in Belgium can benefit from a 10-trip rail pass (SNCB) valid from 1st July to 31st December 2020. The additional cost of the bicycle will be temporarily cancelled.

In addition, it has been agreed to provide additional support to the CPAS through a further temporary increase in the refund rate of 15% on the federal intervention.

In addition to this first package of measures that has been agreed, the ten parties agreed to continue discussions to identify additional support measures that could usefully complement this first package.

 

SOURCE: Premier.be

The latest extension of the alarm state paves the way for a new normality that is still unknown

The Ministry of Health will delegate to the regions the competence to decide on the flexibility, modification and even duration of the measures over territories in phase 3 of the de-escalation as of Monday, June 8th. The state of alarm continues, but the new and last extension, approved this Wednesday and which will be in force until June 21st, transfers the powers to the autonomous regions and may even reach before time what has been called the ‘new normality’. A scenario that is not yet defined but whose “prevention, containment and coordination measures” will be specified on Tuesday in a law decree, as Pedro Sánchez has explained in Congress.

Technicians from Health and other ministries are currently working on that document. The Government does not give details at the moment about the process, although, according to president Sánchez, the content of the decree will be discussed before in an Inter-territorial Council with all the autonomous councilors that will be led by Minister Salvador Illa. Fernando Simón, director of the Center for Health Alerts and Emergencies, specified this Wednesday that the text “is being discussed now and we have to review it, probably tonight”.

The decree that will regulate the ‘new normality’, the stage of our lives that will go from the end of the state of alarm until the COVID-19 is controlled with a vaccine or a very effective treatment, this will feature not only sanitary measures but also related with transport and with commerce”, Simón stated. Regarding the strictly sanitary issues, it will have to guarantee above all “the assistance capacity, the fluidity of the data, and the supplies”. Illa has mentioned aspects that will surely be present in the daily life of the coming months, while “we learn to live with the virus”: “The interpersonal distance of two meters, the use of the mask in the stipulated conditions, and constant higiene”.

 

Don’t let your guard down

The ‘new normal’ will not only reach Spain but all the countries attacked by the pandemic, as they emerge from the de-escalation of confinement. But not even the World Health Organization (WHO) can define for sure what this exactly means. In any case, the criteria of the WHO and Government have not always coincided: the WHO still does not recommend masks to the entire population to reserve them for the healthcare workers, while the Spanish Executive has made them mandatory for everyone whenever the safety distance cannot be maintained. After the state of alarm, Health ministry will continue to recommend them as a minimum.

It is very important to understand that nobody has a map of the ‘new normal’. I speak worldwide. It is an unknown and unexplored territory that is about to be built and in which we have never been”, illustrates Daniel López-Acuña, former director of Acción Health in Crisis Situations of the WHO and professor at the Andalusian School of Public Health. What is clear is that this new context will be different and will have to deal with a horizon in which we do not know how the virus will behave and if there will be a second epidemic wave in the fall that will force again to impose restrictive measures.

The ‘new normal’, wields López-Acuña, “means not to let your guard down”: neither as regards sanitary capacities nor the “responsibility of the population” when it comes to complying with hygiene and safety measures. In other words, the system should continue to count on an extra muscle of resources and epidemiological surveillance to detect transmission chains and control possible outbreaks through early detection, racking and surveillance of cases and their contacts. On the other hand, the specialist points to the need for “a common framework at the state level” because “there cannot be 17 different ‘new normalities’”, he says, referring to the 17 regions.

 

No crowds or mass events

Beatriz González López-Valcárcel, professor of Public Health and part of the scientific committee of the Canary Islands government, recognizes that, even without a decree, they are not clear on what the ‘new normality’ will consist of. In the debates, “what worries us most in the Canary Islands is, on the one hand, what to do with tourism, which is our way of life. How two conflicting interests are reconciled: minimizing the risks of contagion but opening up the economy. The virus came here from the outside, and we know that it will come again from the outside. Regarding education, we talked about how to do it for a long time. And, of course, how to return to normality within the health sector itself”.

Regarding social interactions, López-Acuña details some ideas and stresses that “the behavior of distancing is going to have to continue and we must encourage very cautious behavior”. López-Valcárcel agrees, who relies more on “social control, in which all of us as citizens are responsible” than in coercive measures that may be stipulated. In addition, the former director of Health Action in crisis situations at the WHO focuses on nursing homes, which have been hit hard by the pandemic and which, since they have a vulnerable population, “must be vigilant and take precautions” also in this new stage.

All the specialists consulted are clear that large agglomerations should not be part of this ‘new normal’. Ildefonso Hernández, spokesman for the Spanish Society of Public Health (SESPAS) summarizes it in that “it will be a reinforcement of the issues that we have been establishing these months”, such as not meeting too many people. “Until there is a vaccine or I think that mass events or discos can be held. The virus is still there, it does not go away with the state of alarm”, says López-Valcárcel.

 

Reform of the Public Health Law

Another great question is how exactly the regulation of the ‘new normal’ will be carried out. There are several ways, but having anticipated that it will be by a royal decree-law, Juan Luis Beltrán, president of the Transparency Council of Navarra and former president of the Association of Health Jurists, bets on a modification of the General Law on Public Health of 2011: “It is an ideal norm for this that can be modified and expanded, that’s what it is for. It can contemplate everything other than restrictions of fundamental rights“. So adding paragraphs would be enough to legislate on masks, crowds and health services, he explains, under penalty of administrative sanction for citizens if it is not complied with and that the communities will apply as health authorities no longer in a state of alarm.

The law itself appeals to individual responsibility, with high penalties of thousands of euros”, continues Hernández. Although it was thought for things of less importance than the current ones, which is why everyone agrees that it would require expansion. It is a General Law so it is not valid for measures that restrict fundamental rights, as in the case that at some point it is necessary to confine territories again. For that, it would be necessary to resort, according to the criteria of Juan Luis Beltrán, to the Organic Law of Special Measures in Public Health, of 1986, which already includes the possibility of isolating people for health reasons “but not entire communities, but areas with For example, it was possible to quarantine people in a hotel in Tenerife in February, so that it can limit fundamental rights it would also have to be extended, but it would be another process: the government would have to request an urgent modification to the Congress”.

 

Source: Eldiario.es