The Consultative Committee has established that the number of infections continues to rise sharply. The reproduction number for infections and hospital admissions remains higher than 1, which indicates an enhanced spread of the virus. Furthermore, the number of hospital admissions is also increasing, while the number of intensive beds occupied by coronavirus patients is still slightly decreasing. This picture coincides with the Omicron variant which is more transmissible but causes a less severe form of COVID-19.
1. Coronavirus barometer
The coronavirus barometer is a tool for proactive policy preparation and communication. Its aim is to provide more predictability to the sectors involved, structure the decisions of the Consultative Committee and make them more transparent.
Code yellow, orange and red
The coronavirus barometer has three phases that reflect the level of pressure on healthcare:
- Code yellow: the epidemiological situation and pressure on hospitals are under control
- Code orange: increasing pressure on healthcare system, intervention needed to reverse this trend
- Code red: high risk of overburdening the healthcare system
In addition to the pressures on healthcare, the Consultative Committee will make an overall assessment of the epidemiological situation and pay specific attention to mental health when determining the code.
The sectors concerned
The barometer focuses on public events, hospitality and leisure activities. To determine the measures, a distinction will always be made between indoor and outdoor activities as well as those that are non-dynamic/dynamic. Other sectors can be added afterwards if necessary. Education and social contacts will not be included.
2. Code red from 28 January onwards
Based on, among other things, the increasing trend in hospital admissions, the high positivity ratio and the rapid Omicron spread with an increased number of absences in schools, companies, healthcare sectors and public services, the Consultative Committee has decided to start the following measures under code red from 28 January:
Public events such as theatre performances and football matches will be allowed indoors and out, with the exception of dynamic indoor events such as dance parties.
Wearing a face mask is mandatory indoors and out, CST is required from 50 participants indoors and 100 outdoors.
A capacity of up to 200 people is always allowed. The occupancy rate for larger venues is 70% or up to 100% as long as the air quality is maintained below 900 ppm.
Weddings and funerals will remain allowed.
Catering establishments will be able to remain open until midnight. The face mask requirement will remain in place for customers and staff, CST is mandatory, as is the capacity of 6 people per table and no food or drinks can be consumed while standing. Nightlife and night clubs (indoor/dynamic) will remain closed.
Organised group activities
Organised group activities such as youth activities, associations and amateur sports are also allowed. Up to 80 people indoors, up to 200 people outdoors. Residential camps are allowed.
Indoor activities which are allowed to be open
With the exception of night clubs and dance halls, the following indoor areas that are currently closed may reopen to the public: amusement parks, indoor playgrounds, zoos and animal parks, subtropical swimming pools and recreational areas of swimming pools, trampoline parks, bowling and darts halls, snooker and billiard halls, paintball and laser tag centres, escape rooms, casinos, arcades and betting shops.
Teleworking, shopping and face mask requirement
The current measures with regard to teleworking (four days a week), safe shopping and the face mask requirement remain in place.
Validity of vaccination certificate as of 1 March
A repeat dose (booster) is an important protection against the virus. The Consultative Committee has therefore decided to reduce the validity of the Covid Safe Ticket's vaccination certificate from 270 days to 150 days from 1 March. The validity of the booster dose is not limited in time.
This means that anyone who was vaccinated with a single dose (Janssen only) or two doses (Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca/Oxford) before 1 October must have had a booster dose by 1 March. Otherwise, the validity of the vaccination certificate will expire.
The validity period of the recovery certificate will also be amended to 150 days.
These changes only apply to +18-year-olds.
Extension of epidemic emergency (Pandemic Law)
The RAG's risk analysis and the COVID-19 Commissariat's advice indicate that the cumulative criteria provided by the law are still met at this time and that a federal approach remains required.
The Consultative Committee has taken note of a 3-month extension of the epidemic emergency, i.e. until 28 April 2022. This emergency will be reassessed on a regular basis.
Increasing vaccination coverage
Finally, the Consultative Committee has also taken note of the COVID-19 Commissariat's memorandum on increasing vaccination coverage, as well as of the requested advice in this respect.
The Consultative Committee has invited governments to transmit this file to their Parliament for a parliamentary debate in the near future. Parliaments are also invited to evaluate the epidemiological value of the Covid Safe Ticket and its use in terms of managing the pandemic.