The federal police have set up a checkpoint at the Belgian border with France at Adinkerke near De Panne in West Flanders, to check that people returning from holiday have correctly completed a Passenger Locator Form (PLF) that comes into force today.
The PLF was introduced by the national security council, and applies to everyone arriving in Belgium by boat or plane, and anyone arriving by other means who has been out of the country for 48 hours of more and intends to stay in Belgium for at least 48 hours.
The federal health ministry explains the need for the PLF thus:
""Because the situation changes from day to day. By filling in this form you can be notified immediately and officially if the zone you stayed in has turned red. If you travel by public transport, based on the information on the form, you can also be warned if a fellow passenger tests positive for the COVID-19 virus.”
A form must be filled out for each passenger aged 16 or over, no more than 48 hours before their departure.
The form can be downloaded in English, French, Dutch or German from the websites of the coronavirus task force or the foreign affairs ministry. Once completed it should be submitted as instructed.
The applicant will then receive a QR code by text message, which can then be shown when embarking at a port or airport, when crossing the border or when arriving by bus or train at a city in the interior.
The data collected on the form can be used if one member of a particular transport becomes ill, so that others on the same transport can be notified and tested. The information is kept for only 28 days and then destroyed.
People travelling from a red zone will be contacted by text message and told to self-isolate and be tested.
Anyone without a phone can download the form and carry a printed copy.
Police are expected to set up checkpoints at various busy border crossings with France, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. The checkpoint at Adinkerke is only the first to become operational.
At the same time, checks can be made on board international trains or at arrival stations. Air travellers will not be able to embark on flights to Belgium without a QR code, so checks at airports here will not be required.
“The goal is not to control everyone,” Régis Kalut, spokesperson for the federal police, told RTL.
“There are checks planned and those will move around. All police services are required to plan checks, or they could take place as part of another intervention such as a road accident.”
The Brussels Times