A third attempt at simplifying Belgium’s Traffic Light Travel system
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    A third attempt at simplifying Belgium’s Traffic Light Travel system

    We have officially passed the point that this can be called a simplified version of anything – so this is just a recap.

    On Monday, The Brussels Times summarised the traffic light rules for Belgian travel – in an effort to make the process a little clearer.

    By Tuesday, the rules had changed. Orange zones, which had previously recommended quarantine for people returning to Belgium from those places, no longer did – instead calling for people to be vigilant of their own condition.

    The reason, according to inter-federal Covid-19 spokesperson Steven Van Gucht, was the ambiguity around the fact that it was a recommendation, not a rule.

    “It is not necessary to go into quarantine by default,” Van Gucht said. “People who have been to an orange zone, however, have been at increased risk,” he said, adding that it is important that people are aware of that.

    That led to this update.

    Then came Tuesday afternoon, and a new update on the Foreign Affairs website, which simply reads: “If you are returning from an orange zone, quarantine and testing are called for,” adding that it is not mandatory. Fundamentally reverting back to the initial rules.

    So, let’s try that again. The rules you need to know, as of 14 July (after 18:00).

    Examples include all of Sweden, the UK city of Leicester and parts of Portugal and Spain.

    This list – while initially empty – has grown substantially since the system was implemented. The full list – currently ranging from parts of Austria to other parts of the UK – can be found on the website of Belgium’s Foreign Affairs Department.

    “Orange zones are municipalities, districts, cities, regions or countries for which a moderately high risk of infection has been established,” according to the government’s definition.

    There still is no obligation to go into quarantine, but travellers are now asked – instead of recommended – to go to the doctor for a test and go into quarantine. The government has said that by doing this, it is counting on people’s sense of civic responsibility.

    According to the Foreign Affairs Department, the question to ask returning travellers to quarantine and get tested after all comes from the different Health Ministers and Secretary of State.

    In essence, the message is still the same as it was the first time around, but the wording has been changed.

    In theory, this is everyone else. All other areas in the EU, Schengen and the UK not included in Red or Orange are in the Green Zone, but as it says above – just because Belgium allows travellers to go doesn’t mean the country is allowing travellers in.

    Jules Johnston
    The Brussels Times