Over 160,000 travellers returned from red zones during Christmas holidays

Over 160,000 travellers returned from red zones during Christmas holidays
Credit: Belga

More than 160,000 travellers returned to Belgium from a red zone during the Christmas holidays, according to sources in the Federal Public Health Service.

A total of 187,991 travellers reportedly filled out the Passenger Locator Form (PLF) when returning to Belgium over the past two weeks, reports RTL Info based on sources at the Federal Public Health Service.

Of those, 160,208 came from travellers returning from a red zone.

This past weekend alone, 17,701 travellers returned from a red zone on Saturday, and 19,937 on Sunday. Reinforced checks on Passenger Locator Forms caused massive delays at Brussels Airport this weekend, causing passengers to complain about the checks, as well as the long lines to get tested for coronavirus at the airport.

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Brussels Airport announced that it would be ramping up its testing capacity in light of the new rules for returning travellers. In addition, Charleroi Airport has also opened a testing centre on Sunday, with some 200 incoming travellers getting tested there on Sunday morning.

On 2 and 3 January, a total of 1,977 tests were carried out at Brussels’ Midi train station in a new testing centre run by the Red Cross.

The centre was opened on Saturday, 2 January, and 747 tests were carried out on the first day, with another 1,230 taken on Sunday. “It promises to be busy this week as well,” the Red Cross said.

Between 26 December and 2 January, the federal police checked about 35,000 people at Belgium's borders on filling out the PLF, reports Het Laatste Nieuws. In total, 98 official reports for violations were drawn up.

Belgium's coronavirus figures are declining, and the Consultative Committee is meeting again on Friday, though Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke warned that the measures would not be relaxed yet, with Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden saying that no decisions should be taken before the impact of the Christmas holidays and returning travellers is known.

Maïthé Chini & Jason Spinks

The Brussels Times

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