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Belgium closes borders to UK travellers from midnight

Credit: Belga

From midnight, Belgium will close its borders to travellers coming from the United Kingdom for a period of 24 hours, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo announced on Sunday.

Anyone arriving by train or plane will no longer be able to enter Belgium, De Croo said on Flemish television programme De Zevende Dag. Eurostar connections from the UK will also be shut down temporarily.

The decision is a “precautionary measure” in response to the flight ban that was imposed by the Netherlands, to prevent the spread of a more infectious mutation of the coronavirus, which has seen the UK return to strict lockdown measures for the holiday period.

For the time being, the Belgian measure only applies for 24 hours, as scientific consultations on this virus mutation are still ongoing. “However, it could be extended, if that proves necessary,” he added.

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“There are still many questions to be asked, about the mutation itself and about whether or not it has already reached the European mainland. We do not yet have a conclusive answer,” De Croo said.

Belgium is also in discussions with France on the matter, as Eurostar trains from the UK arrive on the European mainland in France, from where they can travel on to Belgium. That is why preventive roadside checks will also take place, according to De Croo.

For travellers coming from the UK – which is already a red zone – before midnight on Sunday, compliance with the existing quarantine measures will be monitored more closely. “To those arriving, we will give very clear information about what is expected of them,” said De Croo.

Last night, The Netherlands was the first European country to ban flights from the UK because of the mutated virus variant.

Dutch Minister-President Mark Rutte immediately asked for European consultation.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times