Second home owners will legally challenge Belgium's non-essential travel ban

Second home owners will legally challenge Belgium's non-essential travel ban
Credit: Belga

Two families based in Belgium have appealed to the Council of State to overturn the government’s ban on non-essential travel abroad, arguing that it directly affects them by prohibiting them from visiting their second residences in France.

One French couple in Brussels and another family from the Walloon city of Wavre have petitioned for the immediate lifting of the ban, which was recently extended until 1 April.

Both families are based in Belgium but have second residences in France, where they stay for a few months a year, according to reports from La Libre Belgique and La Dernière Heure.

Under current measures, however, it is prohibited for the families to travel to France, as visiting your second residence is not considered an essential trip.

In their appeal to the Council of State, the families argued that the rule forbidding them from visiting another building they own has directly affected their personal lives.

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They also emphasised that the ban is disproportionate, stressing that it is not justified to make a distinction between going to certain areas within the country and travelling to foreign regions, as the situation in some Belgian regions is worse than that of places abroad.

Last week, owners of houses located in other countries, united by the non-profit association Tweres, said they would legally challenge the measure, aiming to get an exception to the ban for owners of second residences. 

"We are not in favour of uncontrolled travel by tourists, but we do want to make it possible for second-home owners," said Jos Dumortier of the non-profit organisation, adding that Tweres would first examine its chances of success and ensure there are enough interested parties to join the case.

The European Commission previously expressed concern about the extension of Belgium’s non-essential travel ban, and questioned whether the measure was proportional.

In the meantime, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo has stressed that the measure will be re-evaluated during the next Consultative Committee meeting on 26 February.

Lauren Walker

The Brussels Times

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