Number of corona rules relaxed
As of today, several corona rules are again relaxed in Belgium. After a year and a half of closure, discotheques and nightclubs are allowed to reopen.
In addition, as of 1 October, the mouth mask may be removed in shops, restaurants or workplaces. Only in the indoor areas of public transport, railway stations and airports the mouth mask obligation remains, as well as in care institutions, for staff members and customers of medical and non-medical contact professions and at all kinds of events with more than 500 people inside, if they do not use the coronapas. As of 1 October, the mouth mask obligation also disappears for teachers and pupils in secondary education and teachers in primary education.
In principle, the measures apply to the whole country, but some regions can choose not to implement the relaxations yet or to take a stricter approach. In Flanders, the obligation to wear a mask in shops and the catering industry will definitely disappear, but in Brussels, for example, masks will still be compulsory in the catering and trade sectors. The strict recommendation to telecommute, the restrictions on private meetings and the compulsory closing time of the catering industry will also be maintained in Brussels.
The states also get the reins for the Covid Safe Ticket (CST), or coronapas. The federal government imposes the use of the Covid Safe Ticket on nightclubs, which can reopen anywhere in the country from October 1, but otherwise leaves it to the regions. In Brussels, everyone aged 16 and over must be able to present a CST for leisure activities from October onwards. The control system will be introduced for three months in nightclubs, pubs, restaurants, museums, theatres and cinemas, festivals and sports venues.
The Walloon government has decided to extend the use of coronapas from mid-October. From then on everyone over 16 will have to be able to present a valid CST in the catering industry, in discotheques, at events and in rest and care homes. In areas where the Covid Safe Ticket is used the obligation to wear a mask will disappear.
There will also be stricter ventilation and air quality protocols in nightclubs, but also in pubs, restaurants, fitness centres and indoor sports facilities.
Flemish protection mechanism stops
The Flemish protection mechanism for companies affected by the corona crisis will end on 1 October. This summer there was still support for some sectors that were closed or losing turnover, such as hotels, discotheques, dance halls and travel agencies. That aid expires at the end of September.
For the third quarter, companies can still receive relief if they can show that they suffered more than a 60 percent loss of sales. The application can be made from 15 October.
End of reduced VAT in the hospitality sector
The reduced VAT in the hospitality sector is coming to an end. The VAT reduction to 6 percent was a support measure the federal government introduced months ago for the hospitality industry, which was hit hard by the corona crisis. But it was also supposed to last until 30 September, and so that deadline is not being extended. As a result, VAT rates of 12 and 21 percent will again apply in the hospitality sector from October.
Civil servants’ pay rises after pivot index is exceeded
In October, civil servants’ salaries increase by 2 percent. This is a result of high inflation, which caused the pivot index to be exceeded. In the private sector, wages rise later.
In August, inflation – the rate at which consumer prices are rising – accelerated for the seventh consecutive month. In fact, at 2.73 percent, it was at its highest level since March 2019. As a result, the spindle index was exceeded earlier than expected.
The overshoot meant that social security benefits and pensions were already increased by 2 percent in September. Public sector wages will follow in October.
Those who work in the private sector will have to be a little more patient, depending on the collective agreement, the collective bargaining agreement of the sector. Some sectors index wages at a fixed time each year, while others adjust wages monthly or quarterly.
Who wants to travel to the United Kingdom needs a passport
Residents of the European Union, the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland who want to travel to the United Kingdom need an international passport from today. An identity card will no longer suffice, as a result of the Brexit. The passport must be valid for the entire duration of the stay in the UK.
There are some exceptions, including for people who are using or have applied for the EU Settlement Scheme, people who received a family permit under the EU Settlement Scheme and border workers.
Transitional measure for stricter assessment of car lights expires
From 1 October, for certain defects in lights and reflectors you will no longer receive a warning, but a red inspection certificate. A transitional measure that had been in effect since December 1, 2019, is set to expire.
The new regulations were imposed by the European Union in order to increase road safety and are also in line with “vision zero”, the ambition of the Flemish government to have no more road deaths by 2050. The Flemish government and sector federation GOCA Vlaanderen provided for a transitional period to give drivers the opportunity to have any defects rectified without the cost of a re-inspection.
Some defects will lead to a re-inspection from 1 October. These include the indicators of the main headlights or rear fog lights not working on the dashboard, the switching of the main lights on the vehicle not working properly, a badly attached license plate light, badly working hazard warning lights or defects in the operation, condition and attachment of the daytime running lights, rear lights, stop lights and the third stop light and fog lights, among others.
European banks may again pay dividend
Eurozone banks will be allowed to resume dividend payments from October if their financial situation allows. The European Central Bank (ECB) announced that it would not extend the coronamation rule that temporarily prohibited the payment of dividends and the buyback of own shares. However, banks still need to have their plans approved as “part of normal supervision”. The ECB also calls on banks to remain cautious.
During the corona crisis, banks were asked to hold as much capital as possible as a buffer, in case businesses and households were unable to repay their loans. However, this turned out to be less than expected, partly thanks to the generous support of the authorities.
Prohibition on the breeding and trading of folding cats
From now on it is forbidden to breed and trade folding cats. Folding ear cats are characterized by the forward folded ears. The best known breeds are the Scottish fold and Highland fold. Those distinctive ears are the result of a defect in the cartilage. Osteochondrodysplasia is caused by a mutation in a gene. Also in other places in the body of the cat the cartilage can be deformed.
This is very painful for the animals. The symptoms resemble arthritis in which the joints are chronically inflamed. Movement is difficult and painful. In severe cases, the cats become lame. There is no treatment. “The only way to avoid this condition is to prohibit the breeding of cats that carry the gene,” is the reasoning of the Animal Welfare Department of the Flemish Environment Department.
For some time no new breedings are allowed so no kittens will be born after October 1. Those who breed such cats should have their animals spayed or neutered. Those who already have a fold cat may keep the animal, but not sell or give it away. Those who can no longer care for the animal can only give it up to a recognised cat shelter.
Vatican can only be visited with valid coronapas
The Vatican is now only accessible to people who can present a valid coronapas. The Holy See previously announced that any resident, employee or visitor of the church state must be able to prove that they have been vaccinated against Covid-19, declared cured after an infection or taken a negative test. The European corona certificate, which is also used in Belgium, is accepted.
The Vatican also announces checks by its own gendarmerie. An exception to the new rules applies at times when faithful attend Masses and liturgical celebrations at the Vatican. They are, however, urged to follow the hygiene rules.
The Pontifical Commission for the State of Vatican City, the state’s legislative body, is following Pope Francis’ instructions with the measure, to ensure the safety and health of people in the church state.