National Security Council launches the risk management strategy

The National Security Council, enlarged to include the Minister-Presidents, met to discuss the work carried out by the evaluation unit (Celeval), who was asked to develop a longer-term vision of health risk management.

The six golden rules remain the same:

  1. Respect the rules of hygiene
  2. To practise your activities preferably outdoors
  3. Think about vulnerable people
  4. Keep your distance (1.5m)
  5. To limit close contact
  6. To follow the rules on gatherings

Concerning social contacts, citizens can see all the people they wish, provided they always keep their distance and, if this is not possible, wear a mask. In any case, citizens cannot see more than 10 people in the same place at the same time (excluding children).

Close contact with a person who is not part of their household, for more than 15 minutes without a distance of 1m50 and without a mask must be limited as much as possible. Given that studies show that most citizens need a numerical reference, the experts advise everyone not to have close contact with more than 5 people (outside the household) per month at this stage.

For events that are not organised by professionals, it is never possible to bring together more than 10 people at the same time in the same place (excluding children). On the other hand, events organised by professionals, under the cover of respect for the rules of the Horeca protocols, will not have a limit on the number of guests but will have to maintain a maximum of 10 people per table. Dancing will still not be allowed at this stage.

For events with audiences, the current rules will continue to apply until the protocols are adjusted. The National Security Council has asked Celeval to work with the relevant ministers and the different sectors to revise these rules to give stability and predictability to the sectors and give them the capacity to recover while continuing to protect public health.

Regarding wearing masks, it remains mandatory when safety distances cannot be guaranteed. Nevertheless, as it is unnecessary to impose it everywhere all the time, from 1 October masks will no longer be compulsory outdoors, except in extremely busy places where safety distances cannot be respected (determined by the local authorities) and in well-defined covered places such as public transport, shops or cinemas, for example, regardless of their level of attendance (see list in the ministerial order).

As far as shopping is concerned, there is no longer a limit on the number of people (always respecting the safety distance) and the time allowed for shopping.

In the professional environment, teleworking is still recommended.

On the basis of these six rules, Celeval’s experts continue to work on setting up a barometer of the epidemic at national, regional and also provincial level, which will be implemented gradually. This barometer needs to be further refined. It will operate according to a tiered principle: the more the situation worsens, the more restrictive measures need to be taken. It will be based mainly, but not exclusively, on the evolution of the number of hospitalisations. The aim is to reach a consensus in the Consultation Committee in a fortnight’ time.

A series of decisions have been taken on the subject of testing:

Increasing the testing capacity of existing triage centres and setting up new screening points. The federated entities are currently working on this.

The creation of a call-centre which will make it possible to concentrate all requests towards a single information point and relieve the burden on general practitioners.

The setting up of an appointment platform to dispatch requests through the available centres.

Reducing the administrative burden on doctors through the creation of a “Corona prescription” in mid-October for certain asymptomatic cases – such as return trips, for example.

Or encouraging patients to obtain the results of tests carried out directly on the internet, notably via the Cozo system or masanté.be.

About tracing, the Coronalert mobile application will be launched on 30 September. At the end of this month, a press conference will be organised with all the information about the application.

The quarantine has been shortened and simplified:

In the event of symptom(s), the patient must isolate himself immediately for 7 days and contact his doctor for a test as soon as possible. If the test is positive, the quarantine continues and if the test is negative, the patient can be released as soon as his/her clinical situation allows.

For asymptomatic persons who have had close contact with a positive person, as soon as the person learns or is contacted through contact tracing, the person immediately goes into quarantine for 7 days from the last day that the person had close contact with the infected person. This only in the case of close contact with the positive person. A single test is then necessary on the 5th day. If the test is positive, the quarantine is extended for another 7 days. If the test is negative, the quarantine ends after the 7th day.

As far as the return from holidays is concerned:

From Friday onwards, going to “red zone” region will be strongly discouraged but no longer forbidden.

Returning from an “orange zone” will no longer mean to be tested.

For travellers returning from a “red zone”, they will have to quarantine themselves from the 1st day of their return and test on the 5th day. They will be able to evade this obligation if they fill in a self-assessment document which, after analysis, authorises them to do so. These instructions do not apply to people who spend less than 48 hours in a red zone, such as cross-border commuters.

As regards couples of different nationalities and/or who reside in different countries, the conditions for their reunion have been relaxed. From now on, they will be required to prove at least six months (instead of one year) of living together, one year of relationship (instead of two) or, as before, the existence of a child together.