COVID-19 - Update

Posted the 11 May 2020
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Following the decision of the Belgian government of April 24, 2020 to proceed to a progressive deconfinement in three phases, the ministerial decree (MD) of March 23, 2020 is modified by a MD of May 8, 2020 implementing the phase 1.b as from May 11. The changes can be summarized as follows (see also in the appendix an informal coordination highlighting the changes):

  • Shops and stores can open EXCEPT beauty salons, non-medical pedicures, manicure, massage, hairdressing and barbers salons, wellness centers including sauna, fitness, tattoo and piercing, casinos, game rooms and betting offices. Under the following conditions :
  • ensure the social distanciation of 1.5 m OR if this is not possible "appropriate" measures authorizing an "equivalent level of protection" notably based on the Generic Guide of the SPF (see below) are also authorized;
  • to comply with strict rules concerning the number of customers and the duration;
  • to provide means for cleaning hands;
  • Establishments in the cultural, festive, recreational, tourist, sports and horeca sectors remain closed EXCEPT the hotels (excluding restaurants, meeting rooms and leisure spaces), and the infrastructure necessary for physical activities outdoor without physical contact (except changing rooms, showers and cafeterias). New, companies cannot organize any activity of this nature ;
  • The difference between essential sectors (unchanged list) and non-essential sectors is still maintained BUT faded because :
    • In non-essential sectors :
      • teleworking is no longer compulsory BUT only "recommended" for all the functions that lend itself to it, which means that one returns to an almost normal situation from the employment contracts perspective and theoretically that an employer can require workers to return to work in the workplace (if safety is ensured). Note that the government had nevertheless indicated that telework would remain the "norm";
      • if telework is not applied, social distancing, i.e. 1.5 m between people, remains compulsory BUT is made more flexible because companies may implement measures ensuring "a level of protection at least equivalent";
      • these measures are "safety and health requirements of a material, technical and / or organizational nature" which :
        • come out of the Generic Guide in order to fight against the spread of the SPF employment virus completed at sectoral or company level; OR
        • "other appropriate measures ensuring a level of protection at least equivalent" which leaves a door open outside the guide;
      • these measures are primarily collective rather than individual (masks), the result of consultation and the workers and third parties have to be informed;
      • business premises and workplaces are only accessible to the public in the context of relations between professionals and between professionals and public authorities;
    • In the essential sectors : the rules of distancing and teleworking remain applied "to the extent possible", it therefore remains an obligation of best efforts with the generic Guide as "source of inspiration";
  • The mask or an alternative is NOT compulsory but only "recommended" EXCEPT in and around public transport for those over 12 years of age. The wearing of a mask is authorized in places accessible to the public;
  • Rules re private activities are also amended;
  • These measures are valid until May 17 (phase 2 being scheduled for May 18 if possible).

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