This coronablog will be frequently updated.
14/04/2021 - Consultative Committee decides to end of Easter break
Based on this overall picture on the Corona crisis, the Consultative Committee made the following decisions:
1. Reopening of schools
After the end of the Easter holiday on 19 April, classes will resume, according to the schedule that applied prior to the Easter break. This means:
- Pre-school education, primary education, special secondary education, the first two years of secondary education and the 'learning and working' system: full-time classroom attendance;
- Second and third grades of high school: 50 percent classroom attendance;
- Higher Education: one day per week of physical on-campus presence.
Exams may be organised with physical attendance.
If infection rates continue to be favourable, and after an evaluation by the Ministers of Education to be presented to the Consultative Committee, full-time in-classroom secondary education can resume beginning 3 May.
2. Non-essential travel: strict system of testing and quarantine
The travel ban on non-essential travel within the European Union expires from 19 April. For travel outside the European Union, European rules continue to apply. However, all non-essential travel is still advised against.
Upon return, a strict system of mandatory testing and quarantine applies. Based on the Passenger Location Form, the police will identify those who refuse to be tested upon return. Those who do not comply with the testing rules could face a corona fine of 250 EUR.
3. End of the Easter break for shops and non-medical contact professions
On 26 April, the Easter break will end. This means that people will be allowed meet up outside together in groups of no more than 10.
Retailers will also be allowed to receive customers without an appointment from this date on. Shopping alone is no longer required, but only one other member of the household can accompany you.
Non-medical contact professions - including hairdressers and beauticians - may reopen under stricter protocols.
At the same time, some thirty pilot and test projects are being launched to establish, practical and science-based conditions on how the various economic sectors can safely start or prevent their closures in the future.
4. Seven out of ten over-65s are vaccinated and protected: outdoor package
On 8 May, when virtually all people over 65 will have been vaccinated and protected, a broad outdoor package will go into effect.
Activities in an organized context (e.g. sports clubs or associations) can be organised outdoors with up to 25 people and for all ages, but without an audience and without an overnight stay. Children up to and including 12 years of age can also participate in indoors activities with up to 10 people
Furthermore, the following will also be possible outside:
- Restaurants and cafes: outdoor terraces
- Events (including receptions and banquets), cultural performances and religious services for up to 50 people.
- Amusement parks
- Professional flea markets and second hand markets
The curfew will be abolished and replaced by a ban on gatherings: between midnight and 5:00 a.m. only gatherings of up to three people or with members of one's own household (people living under the same roof) are allowed in public spaces
5. Two close contacts at home
As of 8 May, a household may receive two persons at the same time, provided that these persons also belong to the same household. Children up to and including 12 years of age are not included.
6. Almost all over-65s and vulnerable people are vaccinated and protected: broader perspective
A new and important milestone will be reached when almost all people over 65 and vulnerable people with underlying conditions are vaccinated and protected. We expect a high level of immunity in that group in the first half of June.
If the numbers, especially the occupancy rate in the ICU, allow it, the outdoor plan will be expanded further and there will also be room for more indoor activities, provided that there is a sustainable decrease in the pressure on ICUs at that time, to ensure high-quality care for covid and non-covid patients is guaranteed.
7. Importance of vaccination
The Consultative Committee notes that in some parts of the country, too few people are showing up to their vaccine appointments. Vaccination is the only structural way out of the pandemic. The vaccines are effective and safe. Possible side effects are very rare and mild, especially when compared to the symptoms of a COVID infection that are thousands of times more frequent and deadly. So protect the lives of you and your loved ones by getting vaccinated.
24/03/2021 - Consultation committee decides broad cool-down package
The Consultative Committee decided on the following "cool-down package":
1. Meetings outside with a maximum of 4 people
The group of people (children up to the age of 12 are not included) who are allowed to meet up outside will be limited to a maximum of four. Families consisting of more than four people are, of course, allowed to go out with more people.
2. Non-essential shops working by appointment only
Non-essential shops are only allowed to receive customers by appointment, with the maximum number of customers allowed in at one time depending on the size of the store and with an absolute maximum of 50 people. Two people from the same family are allowed to enter the store together.
Home deliveries and "click-and-collect" are still possible, provided there is no physical contact and nobody enters the retail space.
Essential shops (including food shops, pharmacists, as well as stores for hygiene products, clothing fabrics, flowers and plants, telecommunications stores, and newspaper and book stores) are allowed to continue to receive customers without an appointment.
3. Closure of non-medical contact professions
Non-medical contact professions are required to close down. These include:
- beauty salons;
- non-medical pedicure;
- nail salons;
- massage parlors;
- hairdressers and barbers;
- tattoo and piercing salons.
4. Youth and Education
Classes at all levels of education (primary and secondary, part-time arts education, higher education and social promotion) will be suspended from 29 March to 2 April. Kindergartens will remain open. Exams can still be organised in the week before the Easter vacation.
Between 29 March and 2 April, childcare will be provided for employees who cannot work from home and for individuals who are unable to provide childcare. Classes resume after the Easter break on Monday, 19 April, with full in-person education for secondary education if possible.
Youth camps and extra-curricular activities for pupils are possible, but only during the Easter vacations, in limited groups of no more than 10 youth and without overnight stays.
5. Tighter controls on working from home
The controls on mandatory working from home will be ramped up and tightened.
Employers must keep records showing the schedule of who will be present in the workplace and when. Public governments also need to comply with the obligations to work from home.
6. Non-essential travel is still banned
Non-essential travel during the Easter vacations is still banned. Border controls will be substantially increased.
The number of participants for static protests on public roads is limited to 50.
8. Importance of the basic rules
The Consultative Committee reiterates the importance of:
- complying with the applicable health measures by the population,
- strict enforcement by the police and inspection services of these measures,
- mandatory working from home, as well as its strict enforcement by the inspection services,
- measures taken by local governments to avoid crowding in busy areas.
The Consultative Committee, the Corona Commissariat and the Risk Assessment Group will continue to monitor the situation closely day by day and will meet immediately when the situation requires it.
The Ministerial Decree is valid until 25 April.
5/02/2021 - Consultative Committee decides on the reopening of hairdressers from 13 February
The Consultative Committee has decided that hairdressers can reopen from February 13 under very strict conditions. Outdoor activities in zoos are also allowed from that date.
The current corona situation in our country is mixed. Extreme caution is therefore still necessary.
However, the Consultative Committee also recognizes body care's undeniable contribution to improving people’s social and mental well-being. Non-medical contact professions will therefore be allowed to gradually reopen. Hairdressers can resume their activities from Saturday, 13 February. Other non-medical contact professions, such as beauty parlours, massage and nail salons, will be able to return to work as of 1 March.
Very strict conditions
The reopening of non-medical contact professions is subject to very strict conditions and tightened protocols. These include:
- A waiting time of 10 minutes between treatments, which should be sufficient for cleaning and disinfection of the treatment area
- Requirement to work by appointment
- Customers have to wait outside
- Providing adequate ventilation, e.g. keeping windows and doors open
- Providing services to customers in their own home is still not allowed
Outdoor activities in zoos
Zoos are allowed to open from February 13 and under the same rules as nature parks. This means, among other things, that only outdoor activities are allowed, and access control must be tightly managed.
Vacation homes in holiday parks, bungalow parks and campsites
The Consultative Committee also took note of the 2 February ruling of the Belgian Supreme Court ruling on vacation homes in holiday parks, bungalow parks and campsites. In accordance with the ruling, they will be allowed to reopen from 8 February, subject to the same strict conditions as other forms of lodging. This includes keeping their restaurants, drinking establishments and other common facilities closed.
The Consultative Committee confirmed its earlier decision to allow home visits as part of real estate activities by professional realtors as of 13 February.
The Consultative Committee confirms that the current restrictions can be phased out as soon as there is a structural improvement in the epidemiological situation. Among other things, the increase in the number of vaccinated citizens, especially vulnerable groups, will have a positive impact on this situation. The COVID-19 Commissariat and GEMS were asked to draw up a timeline, together with the relevant ministers and sectors.
New Consultative Committee on 26 February
Finally, the Consultative Committee also decided to extend the 28 October 2020 decision until 1 April 2021. It does so, to ensure the necessary legal certainty even after 1 March 2021. However, interim decisions or revisions are still possible.
The next Consultative Committee is scheduled for Friday, 26 February 2021.
22/01/2021 - Consultative Committee decides on temporary travel ban and extension of isolation period
The Consultative Committee has decided to temporarily restrict travel for recreational/tourism purposes to and from Belgium.
Restriction on international travel
I. Restriction on non-essential travel
Travel for recreational/tourism purposes to and from Belgium is prohibited from Wednesday, January 27 to Monday, March 1, 2021. The travel restrictions will be enforced for road, air, sea and rail traffic.
Anyone travelling to and from Belgium must have a solemn declaration. A model form will be made available by the Minister of Interior. The solemn declaration must be linked to the Passenger Location Form and corroborated by the necessary documents.
During the period of the restriction, only essential travel is allowed. Specifically, this includes travel for the following reasons:
1. Compelling family reasons
- Family Reunification;
- Visits to a spouse or partner who does not live under the same roof, to the extent that plausible evidence of a stable and permanently maintained relationship can be provided;
- Travel related to co-parenting, civil and religious weddings, funerals or cremations (of relatives or next of kin).
2. Humanitarian reasons
- Travel for medical reasons and continuation of medical treatment;
- Assistance to an elderly, minor, disabled or vulnerable person
- Visiting relatives in palliative care.
3. Study reasons
- Travel of pupils, students and trainees who are on exchange as part of their studies;
- Researchers with a host agreement.
4. Residents of border regions
- Travel as part of their daily lives, to carry out activities that are also allowed in Belgium;
5. Professional reasons, to carry out your professional duties
- Taking care of animals, travel related to meeting one's legal obligations (to the extent that this cannot be handled digitally), urgent repairs for reasons of vehicle safety, and relocations are also considered essential.
II. Travelers from the United Kingdom, South Africa and South America
As of Monday, January 25, all travelers to Belgium from the United Kingdom, South Africa and South America will be required to spend 10 days in quarantine with a PCR test being performed on day 1 and day 7.
III. Double test upon entry
The Consultative Committee would like every non-resident traveling to Belgium to be tested again upon arrival in Belgium, in addition to the mandatory negative test prior to departure. This test can be a PCR test or a rapid antigen test. The Consultative Committee asks the Interministerial Conference on Public Health, the Task Force on Testing and the COVID Commissariat to implement this in practice.
People who test positive for COVID-19 will now have to self-isolate for ten days.
After a high-risk contact or travel to our country, the duration of the quarantine remains ten days. This duration can be shortened to a minimum of seven days provided your test was negative no earlier than seven days after exposure.
Perspective for non-medical contact professions
In the current state of the epidemic, a reopening of non-medical contact professions is not yet an option.
An opening is possible from February 13 at the earliest, provided that the epidemiological situation continues to evolve favorably.
The Consultative Committee will review this situation on February 5.
Moreover, the non-medical contact professions will only be able to open if they strictly adhere to the existing protocols, supplemented by a series of additional measures, such as the obligation to make an appointment, mandatory registration, customers having to wait outside and windows and doors remaining open at all times.
30/12/2020 - Covid-19 law of 20 December 2020
The 'law on temporary support measures due to the Covid-19 pandemic' of 20 December 2020 provides for the following tax and social measures:
- an extension of the reduced VAT rate on mouth masks and hydroalcoholic gels;
- a relaxation of the covid-19-Tax Shelter regime for the Audiovisual and Performing Arts sector;
- an extension of the tax exemption for overtime in the crucial sectors, including students;
- an extension of the temporary exemption from registration duties for some notarial mandates;
- the Compensation Fund for the volunteers among the covid-19 victims will remain operational for a longer period of time;
- a compensation of the costs for annual holidays for employers of temporary unemployment due to the coronacrisis;
- a relaxation of the ban on successive fixed-term employment contracts for temporarily unemployed workers;
- the period of validity of luncheon vouchers, eco vouchers, sports vouchers, culture vouchers and consumption vouchers has also been extended;
- the existing moratorium on mortgage loans has been replaced by a new moratorium, which will run until the end of June.
Finally, provision is made for all the periods laid down in the Covid-19 Law to be extended by royal decree for a maximum of three months.
24/12/2020 - The general suspension for enterprises affected by the corona crisis reintroduced
The law of 20 December 2020, published on 24 December 2020, reintroduces this general suspension for a (renewable) period from 24 December 2020 until 31 January 2021.
But this temporary suspension of means that may lead to insolvency until 31 January is only applicable for all enterprises who are enforced to stop their activities as a consequence of the corona crisis.Read also
Corona crisis and insolvency
18/12/2020 - Consultative Committee decides not to relax, but imposes stricter travel rules and strict checks on working from home
The Consultative Committee decided that it is not possible to relax the measures in force. Instead, there will be additional measures and stricter checks on the existing rules.
1. Compliance with the number of contacts
The Consultative Committee reminds everyone of the importance of proper compliance with the existing contact rules, including during the Christmas holidays.
- No more than one close (cuddle) contact per family
- For meetings outside, the rule of four continues to apply.
- On Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, singles are allowed receive both of their contacts at the same time
There is also a general ban on selling or setting off fireworks.
2. Strict travel rules
Travel is strongly discouraged. For those who do travel, the rules will be made stricter. Anyone staying in a red zone for more than 48 hours is considered a high-risk contact.
- After returning from a trip, a mandatory quarantine period of 7 days must be observed, after which a negative test result must be provided. This quarantine is not compulsory if the traveller's Passenger Location Form (PLF) shows that the risk of infection is low because of their behaviour. The calculation of this risk score on the PLF will be tightened.
- Early 2021, a new PLF system will be introduced, distinguishing between business and leisure travel. Business travellers with a certificate from their employer no longer need to quarantine if their PLF does not show any risk behaviour. All other travellers must comply with the quarantine rules under all circumstances.
- All non-residents travelling to Belgium from a red zone must submit a recent negative test result (48 hours) starting 25 December.
In addition, stricter checks will be introduced to make sure people have completed their PLF upon arrival in Belgium. Compliance with mandatory quarantine will also be monitored more closely.
3. No fun shopping
Cities and municipalities are asked to continue and, if necessary, intensify their efforts to prevent unauthorized gatherings, fun shopping and cross-border shopping.
People need to do their shopping alone and for no longer than 30 minutes.
4. Reinforced checks on mandatory working from home
The requirement of working from home will be checked more closely, both in the private and in the public sectors.
Trade unions and employers are asked to propose tighter measures, in particular to avoid high-risk situations.
The Occupational Health and Safety Committees will assist in monitoring compliance with the health measures and social distancing rules.
27/11/2020 - Consultative Committee allows opening non-essential shops and clarifies corona rules Christmas period
The Consultative Committee decided the:
1. Reopening of non-essentiel shops
Non-essential shops can reopen on 1 December 2020 with strict limits of one customer per 10m² of retail space:
- The smallest stores, measuring less than 20m², can accept no more than two customers at any time.
- Large stores must have a security guard at the entrance, counting people in and out.
Shopping must still be done alone, unless accompanying a vulnerable person or children, with a maximum 30 minutes per store.
Transactions that require longer than 30 minutes, such as ordering a new kitchen, must be done by appointment.
2. Corona rules for Christmas period
There will be no Christmas relaxation to the rule on close social contacts.
You can still only invite one person to your home - always the same person. This close contact is someone with whom you do not have to respect a 1.5-metre distance or wear a mask.
But persons living alone are allowed to invite two people to their home at the same time on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
The late-night curfew in Wallonia and Brussels - currently from 22.00 to 6.00 - remains in place until 13 December.
The sale and letting off of fireworks is prohibited.
3. Border checks
Belgium will reinforce its border checks, to ensure people entering Belgium have filled out the Passenger Locator Form and will respect the necessary quarantine period if required.
2/11/2020 - Certificate when teleworking is not possible
Teleworking at home is compulsory in all companies, associations and services for all workers, unless this is impossible due to the nature of the function, the continuity of the management of the company, its activities or services.
If teleworking is not possible, they are obliged to take measures to ensure maximum compliance with the rules on social distancing.
They must provide workers who are not able to telework with a certificate or any other evidence confirming the necessity of their presence at the workplace.
30/10/2020 - Consultative Committee has decided to strengthen the lockdown
The federal government and the regional governments have decided today in the Consultative Committee to proceed with a strengthened lockdown.
29/10/2020 - Hotels in the Brussels-Capital Region have until 13 November to apply for support
Hotels and aparthotels in the Brussels-Capital Region can apply for a premium of 1,100 euros per accommodation unit.
If the basic capacity of the hotel or aparthotel is 18 or less accommodation units, the support consists of a flat-rate premium of EUR 20 000.
The maximum amount of the aid is EUR 200 000 per hotel or aparthotel and EUR 800 000 per beneficiary.
Applications for this support must be submitted by 13 November 2020 at the latest to the Brussels Economic and Employment Department (BEE-BEW) of the Brussels Regional Public Service. A form is available for this purpose on its website (Dutch - French).
It also contains all the conditions that operators must meet.
26/10/2020 - Measures against the coronavirus in Brussels
In the Brussels Capital Region, in addition to the national measures, the following measures against the coronavirus apply from Monday 26 October till 19 November 2020:
- Obligation to wear a face mask throughout Brussels
- Closure of cultural centres (all included, museums, exhibition halls,...)
- Closure of sports halls (including swimming pools, fitness centres,...) excluding activities for children under 12 years old
- Ban on all amateur sports competitions
- Ban on school trips
- Closure of recreational places, including betting offices, casinos,...
- Worship services: prohibition of activities (except in exceptional cases)
- Homework as a rule
- One person to go shopping
- All shops close at 8 pm
- Curfew from 10 pm to 6 am
23/10/2020 - The Consultative Committee strengthens corona rules for sport, culture and high schools
The Consultative Committee has brought a number of corona rules in the field of sport, cultural events and (high school) education in line with Covid-19 alarm level 4.
16/10/2020 - COVID-19 alarm level 4 goes into effect: stricter rules starting Monday 19 October
The Consultative Committee has decided on a series of measures to prevent hospitals from getting into trouble, schools from closing, the economy from stagnating and too many people becoming lonely due to a general lockdown:
1. Close contacts (so-called "cuddle" contacts) are limited to max. 1 person
2. Private gatherings are limited to the same 4 people every two weeks.
3. Gatherings in public areas are limited to a maximum of 4 people.
4. Working from home will become the rule, for jobs that allow for this this, while ensuring the continuity of business operations, activities and services.
5. Markets and small fairs will remain open, but the consumption of drinks and food will be forbidden. Flea markets, second-hand fairs and small Christmas markets are forbidden.
6. Bars and restaurants are closed. They will remain closed for a period of four weeks, and this measure will be evaluated after two weeks. Picking up meals is possible until 10:00 PM. Receptions and banquets provided by a professional catering company are forbidden, except in hotels for guests who are staying at the hotel and gatherings after funerals (max. 40 people).
7. Night shops have to close at 10:00 PM. There is a ban on the sale of alcohol from 8:00 PM onwards.
8. Ban on entering the public space between midnight and 5:00 AM, except for essential travel that cannot be delayed, such as for urgent medical reasons, professional travel and commuting.
9. For indoor activities, the existing protocols will continue to apply until the evaluation on 23/10. The sale of drinks and food will be banned.
10. Competitive sports: compartments are halved from 400 to 200 spectators (professional) or only limited to members of the same household (amateurs). Canteens and drinking establishments are closed.
The federal government and the governments of the federated entities will do everything in their power to provide maximum support to everyone who is economically affected. For example, the federal government will double the bridging right for the self-employed who are forced to close down. Existing support measures will be extended. There will also be an exemption from the NSSO.
The measures will enter into force on 19 October and will apply for one month, after which they will be evaluated.
06/10/2020 - strengthened corona measures
The federal government and the minister-presidents of the federated entities today addressed the epidemiological situation of the coronavirus. The Concertation Committee considered the situation to be particularly serious and therefore decided to strengthen the measures.
The current evolution of the pandemic is particularly worrying; the number of contaminations, hospitalisations and deaths is increasing. In order to avoid a general containment, the Concertation Committee, after hearing an opinion from CELEVAL, has decided to reinforce a series of measures.
- Close contacts: limitation to a maximum of 3 close contacts per month. A close contact is a contact with a person at less than 1.5 m without a mask.
- Private gatherings at home: maximum 4 people, respecting safety distances or wearing a mask if this is impossible.
- Cafés, cafeterias and other places where drinks are served: maximum 4 people per table, except for people living under the same roof.
- Not organised outdoor gatherings: maximum 4 people per table, except for people living under the same roof.
- Closing time of cafés: 23:00.
- Additional efforts in terms of awareness and respect so that these measures are applied everywhere.
- Teleworking is strongly recommended, several days a week.
These measures constitute the "national base". In provinces whit a worsening situation (on the basis of the future barometer), the governor must propose additional measures, in consultation with the Minister of the Interior and the COVID-19 Commissioner. These measures may apply to the whole province or part of it.
Strict monitoring of these measures is absolutely necessary to protect our health care, to keep schools open as much as possible and to protect the elderly and vulnerable. If these measures are not followed, even stricter measures will be required. Our social life will be further curtailed and our economy will be seriously damaged. Compliance with these measures is the responsibility of all of us.
These measures apply throughout the country from Friday 9 October until 9 November inclusive, after which they will be subject to eva
28/09/2020 - State loan guarantee
The State loan guarantee for certain bank loans in the framework of the fight against the coronavirus will be extended until 31 December 2020.
27/07/2020 - Additional measures to fight the coronavirus' resurgence
The National Security Council decided, based on a new report from Celeval, to strengthen the double strategy – national and local – introduced last week to tackle the resurgence of the virus.
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.
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.
23/07/2020 - Phase 5 of the phasing out postponed
The National Security Council decided to postpone phase 5 of the phasing-out.
Therefore, the maximum number of people present at receptions and events with an audience will remain the same. Regarding fairs and exhibitions, it is expected activities will be able to resume on 1st September, subject to strict conditions and depending on how the epidemic evolves.
The NSC has taken a series of measures that will apply throughout the country from Saturday 25 July.
- In addition to the obligations already in force, wearing a face mask will also be mandatory:
- at markets, flea markets and fairs;
- in shopping streets and any high-traffic private or public location defined as by local authorities;
- in all publicly accessible parts of public buildings;
- in restaurants and bars, except when people are seated at their table.
- Wearing face masks is strongly recommended in all other cases, especially in situations where social distancing cannot be maintained.
Night shops will have to close earlier, i.e. at 10 PM;
Customers of bars and restaurants will also be asked to leave behind their contact details so that they can be notified quickly in the event of an outbreak. This information will be destroyed after 14 days and may not be used for any other purpose than to control outbreaks.
In general, it was decided that controls will be strengthened.
As the epidemiological situation differs between municipalities, local authorities have a major role to play.
They must act in accordance with the ministerial order. However, they may consider taking additional precautionary measures in consultation with the Regions and Governors, so as to ensure overall consistency.
However, if epidemiological outbreaks occur on their territory, local authorities have complete latitude to act directly. The Regions shall share healthcare data and provide mayors with a roadmap of gradual measures that can be taken at the municipal level, ranging from the closure of a single establishment to implementing local lockdowns. Naturally, ensuring visual and verbal ways of communicating the additional rules of the local authorities is their responsibility. Their efforts must be supported, in a spirit of collaboration between all levels of government.
Finally, it is essential to remember that the six “golden rules” still apply:
- comply with hygiene measures;
- favour outdoor activities ;
- remain vigilant with regard to vulnerable people ;
- maintain a safe distance (1m50) ;
- limit contacts to 15 people per week;
- limit get-togethers to 15 people.
With regard to the bubble of 15 people, it was pointed out at the press conference that this rule must be complied with to limit the rapid spread of the virus. All citizens should be able to list all persons with whom they have had close contact in the previous week.
Requirement to wear masks is extended, tighter controls and local lockdowns: a combined national and local approach to curb the coronavirus epidemic.
24/06/2020 - Phase 4 of the phasing out on 1 July 2020
The National Security Council reached an agreement to proceed with phase 4 of the phasing-out from 1 July.
The six golden rules remain in force:
- compliance with hygiene measures;
- preferably organize activities in open air;
- taking extra precautions for people who are in high-risk groups;
- respecting safety distances;
- the enlarged bubble, which is increased from 10 to 15 different people per week, in addition to your family. As a reminder, this is an individual right;
- group activities may not involve more than 15 persons, including children. This applies to all informal gatherings, whether they take place indoors or outdoors.
Are allowed to open under certain conditions:
- swimming pools and wellness centres;
- amusement parks and indoor playgrounds;
- theatres and cinemas;
- casinos and gaming halls;
- conference rooms;
- reception and function rooms with a limit of 50 people.
One of the conditions is that protocols are followed. In addition, the general rules already in force for other activities, such as the mandatory observance of safety distances, the introduction of time slots and crowd management, the cleaning of infrastructure and the wearing of face masks are still strongly recommended.
The following activities may not yet be resumed at this stage:
- activities linked to nightlife, such as nightclubs;
- mass events.
Nevertheless, it will be possible to organise activities with an audience present from 1 July, subject to certain conditions laid down in protocols.
For regular events held in permanent infrastructures such as theatres, cinemas, stands and congress halls that are organized, protocols will be developed with the competent ministers and GEES experts.
For one-off events taking place in the public space an online tool (matrix) will be available from 1 July, which will serve as a reference for local authorities when granting permits for these events. Clear rules will also have to be applied.
All these events are subject to a capacity limit:
- 200 people indoors;
- 400 people outdoors.
This capacity limit will be increased in August to 400 people indoors and 800 people outdoors, provided the health situation allows for it. An exception to exceed this limit may be requested for permanent infrastructures with a seated public, subject to safety regulations.
The maximum number of attendees for outdoor events also applies to demonstrations. These must always be the subject of a request for permission from the local authorities. In any case, they must always be static and take place in an area where safety distances can be observed.
At the same time, in addition to the resumption of these activities, certain protocols will be relaxed from 1 July:
- The possibility to go to the store with people from the contact bubble and without time limit. Safety distance always applies.
- Lifting the restriction on the number of market stalls. Health protocols and measures continue to apply.
As far as the longer-term prospects are concerned, preparations for the start of the new school year are already in full swing.
18/06/2020 - Posting of planning permission decisions in the Brussels-Capital Region
The Government of the Brussels-Capital Region provides for a change in the form and procedures for publishing and making available planning permission decisions, allotment permits and planning certificates.
The measures provided for the publication and making available of planning decisions could not be introduced because they were incompatible with the social-distancing rules issued by the National Security Council in the context of the corona crisis. Consequently, information to the public has been severely restricted since 16 March 2020.
Since a return to a 'normal' situation is not foreseen in the short term, the Brussels Government provides for:
- the abolition of the display on the municipal notice boards;
- the abolition of the 100 m display on both sides of the property;
- the charging of the applicant with the display on the property of the planning and development permit as well as on the existing or future entrances to the property in question.
These arrangements will apply to any decision that has to be posted between 16 June and 31 December 2020.
12/06/2020 - New measures for the third part of the federal plan for social and economic protection
The Inner Cabinet reached an agreement on Friday about a series of additional support measures related to the third part of the Federal Plan for Social and Economic Protection.
A first part of support measures relates to the encouragement of investment. Specifically, it is about:
- A new Covid-19 tax shelter system, which is temporary, until the end of the year and is open to all SMEs that have been affected by the Covid-19 crisis.
- An increased investment deduction (25%) for investments made between 12 March and 31 December 2020.
- An increase from 50 to 100% for the deduction of costs related to organising events and catering until 31 December. This avoids a massive postponement of events until next year, which could cause even more problems for the already badly affected sector.
- Suspension of the VAT advance for December 2020. As a reminder, companies are normally required to pay an advance before 20 December and this will be postponed by one month. The aim is again to improve companies’ liquidity.
- An increase from 10 to 20% of the share of net income eligible for tax deductions for donations. At the same time, the tax reduction for donations to approved institutions will be increased from 45% to 60% in 2020. The latter provision is aimed in particular at the voluntary sector and will support NGOs and non-profit organisations whose activities of general interest have been severely affected by the crisis.
A second part concerns the organisation of work. This includes:
- The creation of a special Corona unemployment scheme, which consists of a transition from temporary unemployment due to corona force majeure to regular economic unemployment. This ‘transitional’ economic unemployment can be used if the company experiences a 10% drop in turnover. Employees will attend 2 days of training per month of unemployment and will continue to receive 70% of their last capped salary.
- Companies undergoing restructuring or in difficulty will be able to reduce working time pending the resumption of their normal activities and to avoid redundancies, either by means of a collective reduction in working time, or by means of the time credit or end-of-career time credit, for which access with benefits will be lowered from 57 to 55 years of age.
- Extending access to corona parental leave. This scheme will run until 30 September with benefits that are increased to 150% for single-parent families and families with a disabled child.
- The costs incurred by people working from home will be more easily reimbursable, up to a maximum of EUR 127 per month, with a view to achieving a better work-life balance in the future.
An agreement was also reached to make available an envelope of EUR 100 million for Public Welfare Centres (OCMW/CPAS), which will be earmarked for vulnerable people.
6/06/2020 - Agreement of the Inner Cabinet +10 on spending power support measures
A first package contains measures already taken by the federal government, which will be extended until 31 August. The most important measures are:
- temporary unemployment due to corona force majeure;
- the bridging right for the self-employed;
- and corona parental leave.
This also applies to other measures such as freezing the degressive nature of unemployment benefits, all measures for artists, the EUR 3 million grant to Public Welfare Centres (OCMW/CPAS) for food aid and the benefits for those who donate computer equipment to schools.
Four specific support measures have been taken for industries in difficulty, including the hotel and catering industry, order to mitigate the socio-economic impact of a gradual resumption of activity. These are:
- An extension and improvement of the bridging right for the self-employed until 31 August 2020, with a possible extension until 31 December 2020;
- At the same time, an extension of temporary unemployment until 31 December 2020.
- To improve the financial situation of hospitality establishments, VAT on all services, except alcoholic beverages, will be reduced to 6% until 31 December 2020;
- In severely affected industries that had to resort to temporary unemployment, an agreement was reached to grant a partial exemption from payment of withholding tax for the next three months. This will also be an incentive to have employees who are currently temporarily unemployed return to work.
As far as company solvency is concerned, the bank guarantee will be extended. The opportunities for extending the measure to SMEs will soon be discussed in Parliament. Proposals to support artists will also be discussed there next week.
Attention was also paid to Belgians’ spending power. The Federal Government and the ten parties want to create a positive dynamic, first and foremost and as a matter of priority for the people, but also for the economic activity of our country. The measures include
- A consumption voucher of EUR 300 aimed at the worst affected industries. This voucher can be granted by employers for the purchase of goods and services in the hospitality industry, the cultural industry, etc. This cheque is 100% deductible and tax-free.
- Additional support of 6 times 50 euros per month to living wage earners, people with disabilities and people entitled to an IGO/GRAPA (income guarantee for the elderly).
- Every resident of our country will get a rail pass (NMBS/SNCB) for 10 train rides valid from 1 July to 31 December. The supplement for taking bicycles on the train will be lifted temporarily.
Moreover, additional support for the Public Welfare Centres (OCMW/CPAS) will be provided through a further temporary 15% increase in the Federal Government’s reimbursement rate.
The ten parties have agreed to continue negotiating additional support measures that may complement this first package.
3/06/2020 - Start of phase 3 of the phase-out plan on 8 June
On 3 June 2020, the National Security Council approved the transition to Phase 3 of the phase-out plan starting on 8 June.
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.
Certain activities are still banned 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.
- 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.
- 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 1 July. 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.
The industry is allowed to reopen partially. Gaming halls (e.g. casinos), banqueting and reception halls will not be allowed to reopen until 1 July. 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.
From 8 June, cultural activities may resume without an audience present. Performances with an audience – including cinemas – can be resumed from 1 July, 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 organised 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.
From 8 June, 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.
- 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 1 July, provided that the protocols are respected.
In both the cultural and sports industries, from 1 July, 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.
From 8 June, it will be possible to travel inside of Belgium with trips lasting one or more days.
From 15 June, 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.
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.
Large-scale mass events, on the other hand, will remain prohibited until 31 August, 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.
26/05/2020 - Credendo Bridge Guarantee approved
The European Commission approved the Credendo Bridge Guarantee in favour of the Belgian economy and internationally active enterprises.
This Guarantee has been set up by Credendo, acting as the Belgian public credit insurer.
It aims at ensuring that enterprises, and SMEs in particular, with international activities and affected by the coronavirus epidemic, can obtain the necessary bank credits in these challenging times. Credendo guarantees up to 80% of bridging loans for a maximum duration of one year.
Thanks to this guarantee, internationally active enterprises can obtain credit more easily, and credit amounts can be higher, while the bank granting the credit facility will have a larger capacity and more comfort.
All information, technical specifications, acceptance criteria and application forms for this product can be found at https://www.credendo.com/covid-19.
13/05/2020 - Phase-out Phase 2 starts from 18 May
The National Security Council (NSC) decided to start phase 2 of the phase-out plan as from 18 May.
This phase is mainly about the gradual restarting of teaching for certain pupils in primary and secondary schools, under strict organisational conditions.
A second aspect in this phase is culture. The NSC has decided that museums and cultural sights – historic buildings and monuments, castles, citadels – can be reopened as from 18 May, provided they set up an online or telephone ticketing system and take the necessary measures to avoid drawing crowds. Libraries can remain open, under the same conditions as now.
As far as the economic activities are concerned: it has been decided that contact professions can resume their activities at this stage, subject to certain conditions. For example, they must work by appointment, wear a face mask or mouth-nose protection (staff and customers) and respect the safety distance between customers.
In addition, markets may start up again, in consultation with local authorities. These markets may have a maximum of 50 stalls, a circulation plan must be drawn up and safety distances must always be respected. Wearing a mask or mouth-nose cover is mandatory for market stall operators and their staff and is also highly recommended for customers.
Finally, a number of other decisions have been taken with regard to sports and leisure. Natural tourist sites, such as zoos, will also be allowed to reopen, provided that they introduce an online or telephone ticketing system to restrict public access, draw up a circulation plan and that cafeterias and restaurants remain closed, as well as any rides and playgrounds. Regular outdoor and club sports trainings and lessons may be resumed if they respect the safety distance and if a coach is present. Groups may not exceed 20 persons and sports clubs are only allowed to re-open provided all measures are taken to ensure the safety of athletes.
As far as marriages and funerals are concerned, a maximum of 30 people may attend ceremonies from 18 May, under certain conditions, including respect for the safety distance. However, organising a reception after the ceremony is not allowed.
There will be no next steps in the phasing-out plan before 8 June. And after phase 3, more phases will follow.
The detailed phasing-out plan as it relates to sports and culture will be communicated as soon as it is agreed with the GEES. The same applies to the gradual resumption of tourist activities and the reopening of restaurants, terraces and cafés.
All cultural, sporting, tourist and recreational events are prohibited until 30 June.
12/05/2020 - Extension until 17 June of general suspension for affected enterprises
A press release has been published today by Minister Geens stating that Royal Decree No 15 which temporarily protects companies against conservatory and enforcement attachment and bankruptcy (and judicial dissolution) and the dissolution of agreements due to non-payment, will be extended until 17 June 2020.
8/05/2020 - Extension of the Council of State's time limits
A recently published Royal Decree extends the measures introduced by Royal Decree No 12 concerning the extension of the time limits for proceedings before the Council of State and the written procedure". This Royal Decree entered into force on 4 May 2020.
The processing by written procedure or, exceptionally, by video/Skype of requests for suspension of extreme urgency will be possible until 17 June 2020 (instead of 2 June 2020)
All other requests and appeals (other than those of extreme urgency) may be dealt with without a public hearing, provided that all parties so request or agree, until 60 days after the new expiry date (i.e. until 17 July 2020 instead of 2 July 2020). This concerns only cases where all procedural documents have already been exchanged and are ready to be dealt with in open court.
The provisions on the time limits for the institution and processing of proceedings before the Administrative Jurisdiction Division of the Council of State will not be extended again, since legal uncertainty in connection with acts of government over a long period is not desirable.
6/05/2020 - Phase-out strategy Phase 1b
The National Security Council, expanded to the Ministers-Presidents, met to validate, complete and clarify the new phase of the dismantling strategy, namely phase 1b, which will begin on 11 May. The experts gave this new phase the go-ahead, as a number of criteria are looking well at the moment.
On the 11th of May shops will also be allowed to reopen, if they strictly comply with the following rules:
- For the shops that are already open – only 1 customer per 10m² will be allowed, for a maximum of 30 minutes. An exception is made for smaller shops.
- Customers are strongly recommended to wear protection covering nose and mouth when inside a store. In any case, safe distance must be kept.
- Employers are responsible for the health and safety of their employees and must make every effort to ensure safe working conditions.
To avoid overcrowding, people will have to do their shopping alone. An exception is made for children under the age of 18 – they can be accompanied by a parent – and for people who require assistance. We also recommend that you frequent shops that are located in a city or town near home or workplace. Day trips and tourist activities are still not allowed. Gatherings of people are also not allowed. Local authorities will ensure that safety distances in public spaces are maintained and will take the necessary measures. Priority should be given to people over 65 years of age, people with reduced mobility and healthcare staff.
People may use public transport if they have no alternative. The aim is to give priority to those most in need of public transport.
Contact professions outside of medical and paramedical care are not yet allowed to resume their activities.
Markets will not be able to start in this phase either. Only individual market stalls (food and non-food) will be allowed by the local authorities and at the usual locations. As everywhere, a safe distance will have to be respected.
Cafes, bars, restaurants and festivity halls, recreational, cultural and tourist sites will remain closed in this phase.
The next phase is currently scheduled to start on 18 May. The communities and educational stakeholders are already working together to ensure a gradual resumption of lessons in primary and secondary education.
In the meantime, together with the experts, the National Security Council will determine the feasibility and conditions for:
- Markets to resume;
- Museums, libraries, zoos etc. to reopen;
- Professions with physical contact such as hairdressers to restart;
- Increasing the number of attendees at weddings and funerals;
- Outdoor sports training to resume and how to resume sports and cultural events;
- The issue of day trips, second homes or the holiday homes will be addressed during the preparation of phase 3 (estimated date: 8 June).
27/04/2020 - Generic guide "Safe at work"
This generic guide is the result of co-operation between the social partners in the High Council for Prevention and Protection at Work, the Economic Risk Management Group, the FPS ELSD and the policy unit of the Minister for Employment.
Based on their expertise, they have developed a tool that carries considerable support, containing a number of necessary and minimum building blocks to enable workers to return to work as safely as possible in the post-lockdown period.
This generic tool can then be further customised by the different sectors to take maximum account of their sector-specific context, and by any employer who needs it, so that activities can be restarted in safe conditions.
24/04/2020 - General suspension for companies affected by the coronavirus measures
A new Royal Decree provides for a temporary suspension during which any debtor company is in principle protected against conservatory and enforcement attachments and any declaration of bankruptcy (or judicial dissolution).
Please be aware! This is without prejudice to the obligation to pay debts.
We return to this subject in our article "The coronacrisis and insolvency".
24/04/2020 - Belgium has defined its exit strategy
Strict lockdown measures will remain in place until 3 May. Thereafter, Belgium could start phasing out the measures, if circumstances permit.
The strict containment measures will certainly remain in place until 3 May. Belgium could then start phasing out the measures, if circumstances permit.
Rules remain in force
Certain rules remain in force, even as were scaling down the measures, such as:
- Limiting contacts between people;
- Respecting safe distances;
- Good hygienic reflexes, also called “barrier gestures”.
Covering the mouth and nose
Covering the mouth and nose is important when scaling down the measures. This can be done using a so-called comfort mask or an alternative means of protection such as a scarf or a bandana. This is:
- recommended in public places,
- mandatory on public transport for users aged 12 years and over. This measure will enter into force on 4 May. A mask alone does not provide adequate protection, it should be considered within the wider use of mouth masks, hygiene measures and physical distance.
The federal government and the federated states will work together to ensure that every citizen receives at least one standard fabric mouth mask free of charge that completely covers the mouth and nose. People will also be given two “filters” to put into masks that have been bought or made. Surgical masks and FFP2 masks are reserved for healthcare professionals, residential care centres, residential facilities and security services.
In the workplace, employers – also in the public sector – must protect their employees if necessary.
But covering mouth and nose alone does not provide sufficient protection if the safety distances and hygienic measures are not complied with.
The use of public transport
Gradual phasing out will inevitably lead to an increase in the use of public transport. In order to avoid crowds, it is advisable:
- to travel by your own means (walking, cycling, car, etc.) in order to give priority to those who need public transport most;
- and to avoid rush hour.
In terms of work organisation, the Group of Ten has validated a generic guide to good practice. This will serve as a basis for sector or company agreements to be concluded. It will also serve as a benchmark for a progressive restarting of the economy under safe and secure conditions for all.
Phasing out strategy
- Phase 1 – a (4 May)
- For industry and B2B services
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.
- For shops and the hospitality industry
The rules do not change, except for the fabric shops, which – given their important role in the production of mouth masks – are allowed to open their doors.
- Phase 1 – b (11 May)
- For shops
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 customers,
– 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.
- For everyday life
We will also clarify the future of sports competitions in the short term.
- Phase 2 (18 May)
- For shops
We will look at whether and under what conditions so-called contact professions can be resumed, again under certain conditions.
- In the area of culture
The opening of the museums can also be considered during phase two, also under certain conditions, for example through a ticketing system.
- As far as daily life is concerned
Team sports will be possible in the open air, but only in a club setting and subject to certain conditions.
- Phase 3 (From 8 June at the earliest)
Multiple points will be examined:
– How to organise 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.
Conditions to succeed:
Testing and tracing will play an important role in ensuring the scale-down takes place under the best possible conditions.
As far as testing is concerned, the intention is to offer a laboratory test to all people who need it, i.e. anyone who has symptoms and who the doctor suspects to be infected, people who have been highly exposed to the virus because of their profession, and people who have had intensive contacts with an infected person.
For tracing, a coordinated strategy will be set up between the Regions and Communities, with the support of federal experts.
22/04/2020 - Extension of the Council of State's time limits
Following the example of proceedings before the civil courts and tribunals, a Royal Decree of Special Powers was issued on 22 April 2020 in order to guarantee rules and time limits for proceedings before the Council of State and the written procedure during the coronavirus crisis.
The adapted procedures are in force from 9 April.
In concrete terms, the following measures will be in force:
- Time limits for introducing and processing proceedings before the Administrative Jurisdiction Division of the Council of State, which expire during the period from 9 April 2020 to 3 May 2020 inclusive (final date which may be adapted by the King) are automatically extended by 30 days at the end of this extended period (i.e. until 2 June 2020).
- Requests for suspension in cases of extreme urgency: these cases will be dealt with by written procedure or, exceptionally, by video/audience via Skype (this measure remains in force until 2 June 2020).
- All other requests and appeals (other than those of extreme urgency) may be dealt with without a public hearing, provided that all parties request so or agree, up to 60 days after the date of expiry of this period (i.e. until 2 July 2020).
The final date of 3 May 2020 may be postponed by Royal Decree. In that case, all deadlines are extended until 30 or 60 days after the new expiry date of this period.
21/04/2020 - circular on the impact of corona measures on public procurement
In our article "Corona crisis and public procurement" we already reported on the impact of the corona measures on the implementation of current public procurement contracts.
The question arises as to whether these measures can be regarded as "unforeseeable circumstances" within the meaning of public procurement legislation.
These and other questions are now also dealt with in a circular of 10 April 2020 (Circular RD 2020/01).
This is addressed to the Flemish government, the Flemish public institutions, the local and provincial administrations and the administrations of worship services.
This circular not only clarifies the impact of the corona measures on public procurement and recommendations for contracting authorities, but also introduces measures to support contractors. These are intended to avoid or limit liquidity problems and to provide points of attention for public contracts in progress.
Companies are explicitly asked to continue to carry out their contracts as much as possible, respecting in particular all necessary health and safety regulations.
And in the event of an interruption in implementation, they are expected to continuously evaluate the situation and resume the contracts as soon as possible.
The Flemish government has indicated that an additional circular with further directives is being prepared to simplify the administrative and legal handling of public contracts for the authorities and companies as much as possible.
We will keep you informed in any case.
20/04/2020 - No additional extension of processing deadlines and public inquiries in the Flemish Region
Friday evening 17 April 2020, the Flemish Minister for the Environment, Zuhal Demir, announced that she has decided that there will be no additional extension of processing deadlines and public inquiries for environmental permits and spatial implementation plans.
Public inquiries suspended because of the corona measures can be continued after 24 April. New public inquiries can also be launched from then onwards.
Minister Demir explains this decision as follows: "The local authorities indicate that they are sufficiently operational to continue their work and are not asking for an additional extension. It is not necessary anymore to suspend deadlines. For many private individuals, investors, but certainly also the construction sector, this is therefore positive news".
16/04/2020 - Brussels support measures for tenants and students
On 16 April 2020, the Government of the Brussels-Capital Region decided to take additional measures for specific sectors.
The following measures were taken with regard to rental contracts, both housing and student.
1. Relaxation of notice periods
- For housing rental contracts, where the notice period is normally (at least) 3 months, the notice period will be suspended as of 16 March and this for as long as the corona measures are in force. However, tenants must continue to pay rent during this period of suspension, as long as they occupy the rented property.
This measure results in an extension of the terminated housing rental contract as it is also provided for in Flanders.
- For student rental contracts and short-term rental contracts for a student house, the notice period of (at least) 2 months is shortened to one month.
The student who rents something must of course continue to pay his rent during the shortened notice period.
These exceptional arrangements do not apply if the owner and the tenant have a different agreement.
2. Exceptional premium for tenants with loss of income
In addition, the Government of the Brussels-Capital Region has also provided for an exceptional premium to be granted to the most vulnerable tenants who suffer loss of income so that they can pay their rent.
The allocation rules are currently being worked out and will be submitted for approval to the Council of Ministers on 24 April.
15/04/2020 - Measures against coronavirus extended until 3 May 2020
The National Security Council prolonged the measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus until 3 May 2020.
The existing regulation for companies remains in force, except for garden centres and do-it-yourself shops, which may reopen under the same conditions as food shops, and respecting the 'social distancing' rules.
It has also been decided that no festivals may take place during the months of July and August.
Decisions on the fate of other shops, cafes and restaurants and the travel sector will follow later.
A new National Security Council will take place next week.
11/04/2020 - new measures of the government against coronavirus
All these measures are adopted by the Council of Ministers before they are sent to the Council of State. Please find below the most important measures for companies:
- The introduction of a temporary moratorium on company bankruptcies.
Any company that is struggling to pay off its debts as a result of the corona crisis, is protected from pre-judgment attachment and executive attachment, bankruptcy and court-ordered dissolution. In addition, the payment terms that are included in a reorganisation plan, will be extended. And agreements concluded before the entry into force of the royal decree cannot be unilaterally or judicially dissolved.
- Tax exemption for voluntary overtime (220 hours) in the so-called critical sectors until 30 June 2020.
- Measures for the horticultural and forestry sector. It will be possible for the temporarily unemployed to work temporarily in a flexible way and without loss of income in these sectors. In this way, for a full working day, employees will receive, for example, the normal wage for the job performed, and 75% of the temporary unemployment benefits.
- An easing of flexible working hours, secondment and temporary work in order to facilitate making permanent employees of other companies available to employers in “critical” industries. Mechanisms to protect workers against social dumping, such as the principle of equal pay for equal work continue to apply, of course.
- Working hours of students in the second half of 2020 will be neutralised, so that they do not count towards the calculation of the quota (475 hours per year). Students can therefore reinforce the labour force in critical industries, such as retail or food.
- The possibility of short successive contracts of fixed duration in critical sectors for a period of three months.
- Access for asylum seekers to the labour market provided that they have filed their application with the CGRS. They will have the possibility to work for the duration of the procedure, including the duration of any appeal against the decision, which is submitted to the Council for alien law litigation. The goal is to compensate for the lack of workers, in particular seasonal workers.
- Confirmation of a bridging right for people who are “typical” self-employed as their secondary occupation in the case of self-employed persons, paying the maximum contribution; “adapted” for certain self-employed as their secondary occupation (with an income between 6996.89 EUR and 13993.78 EUR) and active pensioners (income >6996.89 EUR) who are forced to interrupt their activities by the corona crisis.
- Granting a State guarantee was also discussed during the meeting for certain credits earmarked for combating the economic repercussions of the coronavirus. The purpose of this Decision is to provide new credits of up to 50 billion for non-financial corporations, including the self-employed, and legal entities in the non-profit sector. This measure will have retroactive effect (1 April) and has been adopted this weekend by the Council of Ministers to be published in the Belgian Official Gazette.
10/04/2020 - No need to go to the notary anymore
There is no longer any need to physically go to the notary's office to sign a deed of sale, a donation, or for most notarial deeds.
It will be sufficient to give a digital proxy to a trusted person or an employee of the notary so that the latter can sign the deed on behalf of a party. This digital proxy can be given via a videoconference initiated by the notary. All that is required is an electronic identity card with the correct PIN code or the itsme application. During this videoconference, the notary explains the functioning of the digital proxy and also the draft of the notarial deed that will be signed by means of this proxy.
This is an authentic proxy and therefore prevents any further discussion.
9/04/2020 - Publication of new measures with special powers to combat the coronavirus
These include several measures of the federal government concerning :
- the extension of limitation periods and other time limits for legal action as well as the extension of procedural time limits and written procedure before the courts;
- criminal procedure and the enforcement of sentences and measures provided for in the context of the fight against the spread of the coronavirus;
- co-ownership and the companies and associations legislation;
as well as measures of the government of the Brussels-Capital Region of special powers relating to aid for the compensation of companies affected by the corona measures.
We are examining these measures and will adapt our articles on them.
6/4/2020 - refund of cancelled package tours
When a package travel contract is cancelled due to the corona crisis either by the tour operator or by the traveller, the tour operator is entitled to issue a voucher for the value of the amount paid, instead of making a refund.
This voucher must meet the following conditions:
- to represent the full value of the amount paid by the traveller;
- be delivered free of charge;
- be valid for at least one year;
- explicitly state that it was issued as a result of the corona crisis;
- only serve as a title vis-à-vis the tour operator who issued it;
- the traveller may spend the voucher at his choice.
The traveller cannot refuse the voucher that meets the conditions.
However, if this voucher has not been spent within the period of one year following its issuance, it must be redeemed at the traveller's request.
The tour operator has a period of six months to reimburse the voucher after such request.
Tour operators are obliged to keep a permanent record of all vouchers issued, their value and their holder.
The tour operator's insurance covers the reimbursement of vouchers in the event of insolvency.
3/4/2020 - Corona measures updated
The Ministerial Decree containing urgent measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus COVID - 19 has been updated on 3 April.
The list of shops that are allowed to operate is extended, and include, only for emergencies, and by appointment:
- telecom shops excluding shops that only sell accessories;
- shops for medical devices.
They may only receive one customer at a time.
Access to supermarkets can only take place according to the following modalities:
- maximum 1 customer per 10 square meters for a maximum period of 30 minutes;
- to the extent possible, individual shopping is advised;
These measures are applicable until 19 April 2020. They will be evaluated and they may be prolonged again.
The annex of the Ministerial Decree containing the list of companies in the key sectors and essential services is also updated.
27/03/20 - Measures against coronavirus extended
The National Security Council took the decision to prolong the reinforced measures already taken previously to fight against the corona crisis. From now on, the measures that came into force on Wednesday 18 March 2020 will remain in force at least until 19 April 2020 included.
The situation will be evaluated regularly. The measures could possibly be extended for a further 2 weeks.
27/03/20 - "Nuisance" premium can be requested
The application must be submitted to VLAIO at the latest on 5 May 2020.
The European Competition Network (ECN) did a joint statement on application of competition law during the Corona crisis. This statement is available by clicking here.
The ECN will not actively intervene against necessary and temporary measures of companies put in place in order to avoid a shortage of supply of scarce products to all consumers. But at the same time, the ECN will not hesitate to take action against companies taking advantage of the current situation by cartelising or abusing their dominant position
The Belgian Competition Authority recently announced they won't handle notifications during the corona crisis.
24/03/20 - Participate at the Seeds of law competition
As always, we like to keep our finger on the pulse because this is the only way we can think along with you strategically.
We therefore plan to give special attention to tips that may be of use to you during this period. It is now extremely important to keep your company on track while keeping it as pleasant and interesting as possible.
We would therefore be delighted to hear from you what you are waking up to in this corona crisis and what actions and activities you are undertaking.
That is the challenge right now. And maybe we can help you or put you in contact with other entrepreneurs who can help you.
That is why we would like to launch a competition. The person or company who gives us the best tip wins a free consultation of one hour. Every month until the end of the corona crisis, a winner will be selected.
So if you have any tips, please visit CoronaTaskforce@seeds.law. We will get back to you as soon as possible if you win our price.
24/03/20 - The Flemish government receives extended powers in environmental law during a situation of emergency.
A decree of 20 March 2020 containing measures in case of civil emergencies in the field of public health is published on 24 March 2020 in the Belgian Official Gazette.
The most important elements are the following:
- No permit is required for the construction and operation of additional hospital - and other care facilities, additional production facilities for the manufacturing of medicines and medical equipment and for research facilities;
- the Flemish government has been delegated the power to suspend or to extend mandatory procedural, or to temporarily adapt certain procedural obligations.
22/03/20 Agreement about a state guarantee to cover loans to businesses
The federal government, the National Bank of Belgium and the financial sector have reached an agreement about a state guarantee to cover loans to businesses.
This agreement consists of two pillars:
- The financial sector undertakes to grant viable non-financial businesses and self-employed persons, as well as mortgage borrowers who are experiencing payment problems as a result of the corona crisis, a deferral of the installments until 30 September 2020 free of charges.
- The federal government will activate a guarantee scheme to cover all new credits and credit lines running for a period of maximum 12 months, to be granted banks to non-financial companies and viable self-employed persons. This will ensure that the financial support of the economy is maintained.
18/03/20 Urgent measures of the government against the coronavirus
The Ministerial Decree on urgent measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus COVID – 19 can be consulted by clicking here.