On 24 April, the National Security Council decided to relax the lockdown measures, based on the recommendations of the Group of Experts tasked with an Exit Strategy (GEES). As from 4 May, businesses will be allowed to re-open (retail outlets as from 11 May). However, employers must observe specific safety rules in addition to their usual obligations pertaining to health and safety in the workplace.
In this regard, employers must comply with the following rules, amongst others:
- Specific safety measures must be implemented in the workplace based on the so-called “Generic Guide” agreed by the Group of Ten and sector guidelines.
- Teleworking remains the norm.
- Social distancing measures must be observed (i.e. maintaining a distance of at least 1.5 m between people).
- If social distancing is impossible, face masks must be provided. It should be noted, however, that the use of face masks does not replace social distancing and barrier measures (hand hygiene, sneeze & cough etiquette, staying at home if unwell).
- If employees commute to work by public transport, they should be aware that the use of a face mask is required (mandatory) on public transportation.
- Direct contact with clients is to be avoided.
An employer that fails to comply with these rules can be sanctioned. Therefore, careful preparation will be needed in order to ensure the safe and successful return of staff.
Companies that cannot resume business or that can do so only partially may still rely on the simplified system of temporary unemployment for force majeure. Until 31 May, the National Employment Office (RVA/ONEM) will consider any temporary unemployment resulting from coronavirus to be due to force majeure.
Until 3 May, the current lockdown measures remain applicable unchanged.
We will make sure to provide you with the latest information on this subject as it becomes available.
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