From September, Belgium will open its borders to cross-border couples who have been separated by travel bans because of the coronavirus, Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès announced during a press conference on Thursday.
After they called attention to their situation on social media for months, using the hashtags #LoveIsNotTourism and #LoveIsEssential, partners living in different countries will be able to unite again as of 1 September, the National Security Council decided.
Closed borders and travel bans on non-essential journeys kept many couples apart since the beginning of the year, even after tourist travel to certain countries was became allowed again.
“As we know, love knows no boundaries, and the physical separation for many international couples was no longer tenable,” Wilmès said.
A previous exception for married couples already existed, but people who have no “legal bond” but can prove that they are in a lasting relationship will also be able to cross the border to be together again.
Couples will have to submit an application together with “evidence that they are in a lasting relationship” before receiving permission.
According to Wilmès, it concerns couples who have lived together for at least one year, have maintained a relationship for at least two years or have a child together.
“It goes without saying that the people involved will be subject to the same rules on testing and quarantine as everyone else,” Wilmès said.
On the day before the National Security Council, Belgian virologist Marc Van Ranst expressed his support for separated cross-border couples, saying that he and his fellow virologists “wholeheartedly supported” their cause.
The Brussels Times