Belgian experts ‘wholeheartedly support’ opening borders to cross-border couples
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Belgian experts ‘wholeheartedly support’ opening borders to cross-border couples

Credit: Piqsels

Belgian virologists, including Marc Van Ranst, “wholeheartedly support” efforts to open the country’s borders to couples who have been separated by the coronavirus, but the government has not taken any measures yet.

The hashtags #LoveIsNotTourism and #LoveIsEssential have been used by many couples in long-distance relationships who were separated for months to call attention to their situation, but Belgium has not given couples any perspective yet.

“Nothing has changed yet, and there is no perspective,” Hannah Maes (25) told The Brussels Times. Maes has not seen her American girlfriend, who lives in New York, since January. “They are working on it, they say, but so far, it has been nothing but talk,” she added.

On Twitter, Van Ranst said that he and his fellow-virologists “wholeheartedly support the #loveisnottourism principle,” and have been proposing it to the government for months.

His tweet comes a day before Belgium’s National Security Council will meet to review the county’s current coronavirus measures.

Besides virologists, Celeval, which assists the government in deciding the measures to be taken to fight the virus, also showed support for the idea of letting cross border couples unite in a report on 5 August.

“Celeval wants to support the human aspect when it comes to non-essential journeys for love partners and family, and finds it important to analyse this issue to see to what extent a limited admission is possible,” the report read.

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“Celeval expects a long period of travel restrictions with third countries and therefore finds it important to provide a solution,” it added, also pointing to travellers’ willingness to quarantine.

Last month, Van Ranst also spoke about his support for the cause, but said that the issue was casting such rules in a conclusive ministerial decree.

“Everyone agrees that this is an important subject, and it also concerns a relatively small number [of people]. But the devil is in the details: where do you draw the line, how do you prove you are in love, how do you prevent abuse?” Van Ranst said then.

Several of Belgium’s neighbouring countries, such as Germany, France and the Netherlands, as well as several other countries in the EU, have made exceptions to their rules, provided that partners were willing to quarantine and show that they are in a lasting relationship.

In early July, MEP Moritz Körner already urged Belgian Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès to find a solution for these people, but nothing has changed yet.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times

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