Coronavirus: Flemish governor calls for EU-wide travel risk system

Coronavirus: Flemish governor calls for EU-wide travel risk system
Illustration picture shows a police officer checking a person in a car at the border between Belgium and France in April 2020. © BELGA/BENOIT DOPPAGNE

Authorities in Belgium are calling for wider cooperation on coronavirus regulations between EU countries, calling for a common travel risk assessment system.

Belgian towns along the border with France have come forward with concerns over the differences in the colour-coded. risk systems between Belgium and France.

While Belgium has classed France's North department as orange or of moderate risk, authorities in France class the area as a red or high-risk zone.

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The governor of the bordering West Flemish province, Carl Decaluwé has said the situation is "extremely confusing" and of concern given the number of people who travel across the border daily.

"There is not much we can do for the time being," Decaluwé told VRT. "As long as the region remains orange, we cannot take any extra measures."

People travelling into Belgium from zones classed as orange by the foreign affairs ministry are encouraged, but not required to quarantine or take a coronavirus test, meaning authorities cannot enforce either measure.

"It's a very unpleasant situation," said Eddy Lust, the mayor of Menen, a municipality south of Kortrijk and bordering the French city of Tourcoing.

Lust said that to make up for a lack of stricter measures, officials in their city had opted to enforce the use of face masks in crowded areas.

Decaluwé said confusion and incongruent situations due to the different risk assessments between countries was not only a problem in Belgium.

"You can also see it in Spain, some places there are turning green already, but for our country, the entire country is red," he said.

The Flemish governor is therefore calling for a European-wide colour code system in order for local authorities to have increased clarity in managing cross-border flows.

"Each country is now deciding for itself which colours they give to certain places," he said. "That just can't be."

Gabriela Galindo

The Brussels Times

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