Dear UK community serving at SHAPE,
You will certainly be aware that the Belgian Government recently announced a change in its COVID barometer from Red to Orange, which will take place on 18 Feb (Fri). The changes are largely related to the hospitality sector, events and leisure, teleworking, travel rules and the requirement to wear face masks (from 19 Feb only mandatory from age 12). However, the exact rules still need to be implemented by Royal Decree so the very fine detail will only be formalised there. The official sites remain our best source of in-force HN rules.
The SHAPE COVID committee meets tomorrow (Thu) and will discuss the implications of the barometer change so I have spoken this week with the right people here. It may take a short while for anticipated changes to SHAPE policy to be released (eg a couple of days) as they understandably want to see exactly what the Royal Decree says. The intent is to remain as closely aligned as possible – I realise that the current differences (eg length of quarantine) primarily impact those who are unvaccinated. Of course, these differences definitely affect UK children here (and their parents), we only vaccinate specific children under 12 whereas Belgium offers vaccination to all children from 5 years old. SHAPE acknowledges that impact but justifiably sets policy based on HN rather than that of the UK.
I also discussed the COVID tracing/testing provision here as I know there have been difficulties with getting through by phone and conflicting / confusing advice.
I hope this is a useful, brief info drop as you are inevitably waiting to see how SHAPE will respond to the HN barometer change.
Capt R Hutchings RN |Deputy UK NMR & SNR SHAPE | Desk: +32(0)65446260 | Mob (work): +44(0)7717427752 | MODNET: firstname.lastname@example.org | UKNMR, SHAPE, BFPO 26, BF1 2AG