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.

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

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 Huelva Chamber of Commerce, 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 webinar will be presented by Marta González Benguria, Secretary General and Javier Rincón Cruz, International Trade Advisor of the Chamber.

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 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

Measures taken by the National Security Council of 3 June 2020

On Wednesday, June 3rd, the National Security Council, extended to include the Ministers-President, approved the transition to Phase 3 of the phase-out plan starting on June 8th. As the daily reporting from the health authorities shows, the health indicators are encouraging. The experts have therefore given the green light to start this new phase.

This implies a radical change in approach compared to the rules that have been in force so far. After all, from now on, freedom is the rule and what is not allowed is the exception.

Any activities that are still banned are not allowed because they either involve too close contact between people or mass gatherings, or because no protocols – i.e. specific rules for a sector – have been defined yet.

This new approach must be understood at two levels. Firstly, the individual behaviour (How should I behave in light of my renewed freedom?) and secondly, the regulatory framework applicable to organised activities (Which protocols should professionals apply when organising activities?).

 

  1. As far as individual behaviour is concerned, there are six golden rules:
  • Hygiene measures remain essential.
  • Outdoor activities should be favoured wherever possible. Where necessary, rooms should be adequately ventilated.
  • Additional precautions should be taken for people belonging to a high-risk group. A charter is being developed for older people who do volunteer work to provide them with more clarity about the activities they can engage in safely.
  • The rules regarding safety distance continue to apply, except for people within the same family, for children under the age of 12 and for people with whom there is closer contact, i.e. the extended bubble. Those who cannot respect the safety distance have to wear a mouth mask.
  • It is possible to have closer contact with 10 different people every week, in addition to the family members (= extended personal bubble). This is an individual right. These 10 people can change from one week to the next.
  • Group meetings are limited to a maximum of 10 people, including children. This applies to all gatherings, regardless of whether they take place at home or outdoors (e.g. in the park or at a restaurant).
  • Organised sports and now also cultural activities supervised by a person in charge are limited to 20 people in June and 50 people in July, provided that the safety distance is maintained.

 

  1. About the regulatory framework:
  • All organised activities are resumed, unless the restart is planned in another phase, with protocols that protect both users and staff. These protocols are determined by the competent Minister, after consulting the GEES, in consultation with the sector and, in the case of North-South issues, with an inter-federal approach.
  • The protocols will be evaluated by July 1st. If there is no protocol for a subsector, a document is placed online with the general rules that must apply as a minimum.
  • Working from home is recommended where possible.
  • The hospitality, sports and culture industries are the main industries where important decisions have been taken.

 

Hospitality industry

The industry is allowed to reopen partially. Gaming halls (e.g. casinos), banqueting and reception halls will not be allowed to reopen until July 1st. As far as banqueting and reception halls are concerned, they will be allowed to operate with a maximum of 50 people present, subject to the same conditions as catering. Nightclubs are not allowed to open before the end of August, as no safety distance can be ensured.

In addition to these exceptions, all other hospitality establishments such as cafes, bars and restaurants will reopen according to a very precise protocol.

The main features of this protocol include:

  • A distance of 1.50 metres between the tables.
  • A maximum of 10 persons per table.
  • Each customer must remain seated at their own table.
  • Waiters have to wear masks.
  • All hospitality establishments are allowed to remain open until one o’clock in the morning, just like the night shops.

 

Cultural industry

From June 8th, cultural activities may resume without an audience present.

Performances with an audience – including cinemas – can be resumed from July 1th, but only subject to specific rules regarding crowd management, such as respecting the safety distance in the audience and a maximum of 200 attendees.

Activities should be organised in such a way as to avoid gatherings of too many people, e.g. outside the venue.

When people take part in cultural and leisure activities, wearing a mask is recommended at all times.

Sporting and now also cultural activities that are organized and supervised by a person in charge are limited to 20 people in June and 50 people in July, subject to safety distances.

In these two industries – but not only those two – the very gradual reopening and associated requirements will make it more difficult to operate at a profit. At the federal and regional level, in addition to extending or adapting the generic measures to support the economy, we are currently working on a series of specific measures to help certain industries.

 

Sports industry

From June 8th, non-contact sports activities can be resumed, both indoor and outdoor, amateur or professional, league and training. Gyms and fitness rooms may also be reopened, subject to protocol.

However:

  • Contact sports (e.g. judo, boxing, football, etc.) should always be limited to “contactless” training.
  • As far as sports facilities are concerned, the protocols will also have to be followed. Changing rooms and showers will still not be accessible.
  • Swimming pools, saunas and wellness centres have to remain closed at this stage.

As far as sports are concerned, everything will be allowed again from July 1st, provided that the protocols are respected.

In both the cultural and sports industries, from July 1st, a seated audience of up to 200 people – regardless of the size of the venue – will be allowed, subject to safety distances and always in strict compliance with protocols.

 

Religious services

Religious worship or gatherings may be resumed on June 8th, subject to, inter alia, the following rules:

  • Safety distances must be observed with a maximum of 100 persons.
  • As of July, this number will be increased to 200, just like in the cultural and sports industries.
  • Rituals with physical contact are still not allowed.

 

Travel

From June 8th, it will be possible to travel inside of Belgium with trips lasting one or more days.

From June 15th, Belgium will open its borders for travel to and from the European Union, including the United Kingdom and the four other Schengen countries (Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Iceland and Norway). However, it is up to each country to decide whether to open its borders. To know the situation in the country of destination, it is therefore advisable to consult the website of the FPS Foreign Affairs. The conditions for travel outside of Europe have yet to be defined in light of the evolution of discussions at European level.

 

Leisure and free time

Leisure and free time activities are permitted from June 8th, except for conferences, amusement parks and indoor playgrounds, which may only be reopened from July 1st.

 

Get-togethers

Cultural and leisure activities have to be organised in such a way as to avoid large gatherings. Wearing a mask is recommended at all times.

Gatherings (e.g. village fairs, village festivals, etc.) are prohibited until August 1st and may then be resumed gradually. Large-scale mass events, on the other hand, will remain prohibited until August 31st, as previously announced.

At the beginning of summer, an online evaluation tool will be made available for organisers who want to know whether they can organise an event and subject to what conditions.

 

Phases 4 and 5 of our phase-out strategy will take place in July and August, if the epidemiological situation permits.

 

Source: Belgium.be

Covid-19 bonus for companies in Brussels

COVID-19 premium

The measures taken to counter the spread of the coronavirus are having unprecedented consequences for the economic activity. The Region supports companies that have temporarily closed their doors and are work in certain sectors of activity. Under certain conditions, you can benefit from a bonus of 4,000 € per establishment in the Region. Your application for a voucher must be submitted by June 1st at the latest.

All about the COVID-19 voucher

Who can benefit from this bonus?

Any company (self-employed or business) with fewer than 50 full-time employees (FTE) with at least one operational site in the Brussels-Capital Region and active in an eligible sector of activity: shop-keeper, establishments, … (including bookshops, estate agents, car wash and DVD rental companies). Please check on the Banque Carrefour des Entreprises website that your NACE VAT 2008 codes correspond to your actual activity.

The business must have an economic and commercial purpose. Public companies (or companies considered as such) cannot benefit from this bonus. A different voucher is available for social integration companies.

Reminder: A company can only receive a maximum of 200,000 € of “de minimis” aid during the current fiscal year and the two previous years, according to the Commission Regulation (EU) No. 1407/2013 of 18 December 2013.

The application for the voucher must be submitted before June 1st 2020.

What is the procedure?

Amount of the bond: 4,000 € per operational site located in the Brussels-Capital Region, with a maximum of 20,000 € per company.

Maximum number of requests: Only one request per company.

Who can ask for the bonus?

1. Check with your company number to see if you meet the criteria.

Tip: Make sure that your NACE VAT codes in the Crossroads Business Bank reflect your actual activity.

2. If you meet the criteria, fill out a bonus application form. The deadline is June 1st 2020. The form must include the following attachments:

  • a bank certificate of your company’s account (company name and account number)
  • your last monthly or quarterly VAT return
  • a photo of the bank card linked to the company’s current account (jpeg format)
  • a double-sided photo of the identity card of the person signing the application (jpeg format)

Attention

In the event that the subsidy is granted: the company will notify Bruxelles Economie et Emploi immediately if it is subsequently sold or if it ceases to operate.

 

Contact

Bruxelles Economie et Emploi
Direction des Aides aux entreprises

Bd du Jardin Botanique, 20

1035 Ixelles

 

For more information about this bonus or any other business assistance, please contact 1819 (the Regional Business Information Service hosted at hub.brussels).

E  info@1819.brussels
T  Call 1819

 

SOURCE: Bruxelles Économie et Emploi

Measures taken by the National Security Council of April 24th, 2020

On the basis of recommendations from the Group of Experts in charge of the Exit Strategy (GEES), the National Security Council met today, Friday April 24th, to determine the exit strategy from the corona crisis. Hopeful indicators, such as the reduction in the number of daily hospital admissions or the flattening of the mortality curve now make it possible to start phasing out very gradually. But the government stresses that the virus is still present on our territory and remains dangerous.

It is important to emphasize that certain rules remain in force, even as were scaling down the measures. Rules such as:

– Limiting contact with people

– Respecting safe distances

– good hygienic reflexes, also called “barrier gestures

– Use of masks in public areas and public transport for users aged 12 years and over.

– Travel by your own means instead of public transportation and avoid rush hours.

Phasing out strategy

The strict containment measures will certainly remain in place until 3 May. Belgium could then start phasing out the measures, if circumstances permit. All of the following dates are subject to change depending on the health situation and the evolution of the virus.

  • Phase 1-A (4 May)

Working from home is still the standard.  For example, if companies cannot meet the physical distancing requirements, they will be able to compensate by following a series of health recommendations, such as wearing a mask.

The rules do not change for shops and the hospitality industry, except for the fabric shops, which – given their important role in the production of mouth masks – are allowed to open their doors.

Working groups are already studying how to respond to the need to continue to provide the best care to people infected with covid-19 while gradually and safely expanding access to general and specialised health care. The aim is to ensure that everyone regains ‘normal’ access to healthcare as soon as possible and that the medical infrastructure needed to care for people suffering from the virus is not overburdened.

Physical activity in the open air is allowed with a maximum of two people in addition to those living under the same roof, provided that physical distance is always respected.

It will also be allowed to practice other non-contact sports in the open air. But access to changing rooms, communal showers and cafeterias is still forbidden.

  • Phase 1-B (11 May)

This phase allows all shops to reopen at the same time – without discrimination on the basis of size or industry – in order to give everyone the same chance of success. This will of course be subject to conditions. These will be determined in consultation with the industries and the social partners.

There are three types of conditions, relating to: work organization, welcoming in clients and restricting access to shops to avoid hustle and bustle.

Carrying out so-called contact professions (such as hairdressing, for example) is not permitted at this stage.

Future of sports competitions will be also clarified in the short term.

  • Phase 2 (18 May)

The government  look at whether and under what conditions so-called contact professions can be resumed, again under certain conditions.

The opening of the museums can also be considered during phase two, also under certain conditions, for example through a ticketing system.

Team sports will be possible in the open air, but only in a club setting and subject to certain conditions.

Lessons will very gradually resume from the 18th of May. Not all pupils/students will be able to go back to school immediately. Each Community will be responsible for implementing this decision on its own territory, in consultation with the education sector.

Also, certain possibilities will be examined, such as:

– the ability to hold private meetings at home

– the ability to permit more people at weddings and funerals.

– allowing more than two people to be active outdoors together

– the possibility to organize day trips to certain regions of the country.

  • Phase 3 (8 June at the earliest)

Multiple points will be examined:

– How to organize the possible and gradual reopening of restaurants and, at a later stage, cafes, bars and the like. This will in any case have to be done under strict conditions.

– Various summer activities such as trips abroad, youth movement camps (to be decided at the end of May), internships, tourist attractions but also smaller open-air events. The only certainty is that mass events such as festivals are not allowed before 31 August.

 

Source: Belgian.be

Extension of the measures taken by the Walloon Government against Covid-19

On 22 April, the Walloon Government presented additional measures to address the consequences of the health crisis in the region. Main measures taken:

 

Economy / Employment

285 million in addition to the 233 million euros already allocated in March to support the economy, businesses and the self-employed workers:

Extension of the categories for the fixed allowance of Sectors concerned: mechanics, artistic and entertainment businesses, gyms, horse-riding centres, cinemas, real estate agencies.

Introduction of a second fixed allowance of 2,500 euros for self-employed workers/businesses that have only been able to operate partially during the containment period and have benefited from the right of transition.

Creation of the transitional loan for self-employed workers who need cash to get through the transition. Loans of a maximum amount of 45,000 euros at a favourable interest rate and for a maximum period of 5 years. This loan will be financed in two thirds by the banks and in one third by the public entity SOWALFIN. This last one will guarantee 75% of the reimbursement. Attention! The repayment loan cannot be cumulated with the overall compensation.

In total, the Government estimates that between 110 and 115,000 self-employed persons/enterprises will benefit from this aid.

 

Health/social measures

1 million for the purchase of food for entities active in food aid.

Increased support for housing infrastructure (in addition to that already granted in March) to help them cope with the additional costs related to the crisis: an additional 250 euros for residents in mental health centres and housing infrastructures for people with disabilities and an additional 400 euros for each bed authorised in the MR-MRS.

Hiring of 140 psychologists who will provide support and accompaniment to the residents and care staff of these reception centres.

Assistance for the accompaniment of disabled people confined in their homes

5 million euros reinforcement for the financing of the Walloon CPAS to enable them to meet new needs and new target groups.

Financial support for the 88 family and elderly care facilities and the 6,500 workers in this sector: 80% compensation for the loss of co-payments (for the covid lost hours) provided that the workers for whom the hours are declared are not unemployed.

Overall compensatory aid of 5,000 euros to the 124 companies approved as Social Economy Initiatives, to the Structures for Supporting Self-Creation of Employment (SAACE), to the Advisory Agencies on the Social Economy (ACES).

 

Housing

Loans at 0% interest granted by the Société Wallonne de Crédit Social for tenants who have difficulties paying their rent. Maximum term of 6 months, repayable in 36 months.

Kot: possibility for students to terminate the student rental contract early.

Authorisation to extend the current lease for those who cannot move.

 

Energy

Gas/electricity: aid of 100 euros (electricity) and 75 euros (gas) for people who have a budgeted counter (aid in the form of a deduction on the regularisation bill). This measure affects some 100,000 Walloon households.

 

Water

For citizens with payment difficulties:

Prohibition of any suspension of water supply and limitation of water flow for a period of 60 days from 1st April 2020.

Reinforcement of the aid granted by the Public Social Assistance Centres (CPAS) to people in a precarious situation with an exceptional additional allocation of 500,000 euros to the Water Social Fund.

 

For the self-employed, SMEs and companies:

With a simple request, a deferral of payment of invoices or a deferral of payment will be granted.

Revision of the quarterly advances to take account of the decline in activity.

Extension of traditional deadlines.

Speeding up payments by public water companies to subcontractors and suppliers

Staggered payment of water tax

 

Research

25 million to finance research projects carried out by Walloon companies in the fight against the coronavirus.

 

Non-commercial sector

Securement of grants to associations that can prove that the suspension of their activities is related to the Covid-19 crisis. This measure is intended to maintain employment in the association sector and ensure the viability of these actors who meet the essential needs of our society before, during and after the crisis.

 

 

Source: Wallonie.be

 

Containment measures extended up to May 3rd

The Prime Minister, Sophie Wilmès, announced some new measures following the National Security Council meeting on Wednesday 15 April, the most important one was the extension of the containment measures currently in force up to and including 3 May.

Following this decision, do-it-yourself stores and garden centers will be able to re-open, under the same conditions as food stores while social distancing will need to be respected. Also residents of residential facilities – i.e. rest and care homes or centers for people with disabilities – will be allowed to be visited by a pre-designated person. The condition is that the person in question has not shown any symptoms of the disease in the past two weeks. These rules will also apply to people who live in isolation and are unable to move around.

The basic rules will remain unchanged until 3 May and must be followed strictly. The public order services will continue to monitor this. A new National Security Council meeting will be organized next week with the aim of developing the next step in phasing out the measures. The goal is to organize this  phase-out strategy from early May and this will gradual based on the advice of the scientists. This strategy will be based on several pillars, namely social distancing, large-scale screening as well as tracing, and the development of new rules to be applied in the business world.

It is clear that wearing a face mask – even a so-called comfort mask – will also play an important role in the phase-out strategy. Fabric masks will be recommended for any situation where social distancing cannot be maintained. In order to do so, a collective effort will be needed, including the start-up of national production. However, face masks cannot replace the hygiene measures or social distancing.

In the short term, the National Security Council will give its opinion on the analyses and proposals of the group in charge of the exit strategy, including the right timing and conditions for the gradual re-opening of shops and catering establishments, as well as on the approach to schools, internships, youth movements and travel. It has already been established that mass events such as festivals cannot be organised before the end of August.

As regards the business community, the current rules will continue to apply until such time as the protocols can be ratified on a sector-by-sector basis. The aim of these protocols is to enable companies to resume their normal activities as soon as possible, while also guaranteeing adequate working conditions for their employees, adjusted for the situation. Working from home should continue to be preferred for some time to come.

Source: Info-coronavirus.be