The obligation to keep poultry on farms will expire on 20 April, provided that the bird flu threat is not present. The containment requirement for backyard poultry and hobby birds has been lifted in Belgium since Tuesday 6 April. With this, the federal agency for the safety of the food chain (FASFC), the Belgian NVWA, took a first step in their step-by-step plan for the removal of bird flu measures.
If there are no more significant threats, from 20 April onwards the obligation to keep poultry farms will cease in Belgium. From that date broilers may also be unloaded again in Belgium. In addition, the ban on meetings of poultry is therefore repealed.
Contamination in wild birds in Belgium does not necessarily mean that the next steps are postponed. That depends on the specific situation. The abolition of mandatory feeding and drinking water is the only measure taken longer than 20 April. This is a big trigger for wild birds.
The Netherlands continues to live in storage
For the time being, the obligation to store poultry remains in place in the Netherlands because the risk of introduction of avian influenza on poultry farms remains high in the Netherlands. There is still highly pathogenic avian influenza virus circulating in the Dutch wild birds. The number of infected birds is decreasing. This is demonstrated by a risk assessment by the expert group on animal diseases of 24 March. This week, Minister Carola Schouten of Agriculture decided to maintain the compulsory storage in the Netherlands on the basis of advice from the expert group on animal diseases.
If there are no further infections, Belgium can regain a bird flu-free status as of 29 April, according to the rules of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE). The Netherlands can only do so from 24 June. A country shall be granted bird flu-free status three months after the first cleansing and disinfection of the last infection on a poultry holding in that country. If a country is granted a bird flu-free status, this does not directly mean that third countries automatically open their borders again. The government in the country in question decides on this.