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Belgium in Brief: Now is not the time to travel

Belgian experts have doubled down on a much-laboured point (once again), one more time with feeling.

Basically, they really don’t want you to travel at the moment.

This, of course, poses a pretty big issue. Many expats and Belgians alike have decided to leave the country for the festive period – and many will be coming back this weekend.

Across the country, border checks will be increased to make sure people are obeying the rules, but more must be done according to infectious disease expert Erika Vlieghe. “What we have now is not safe or solid enough. We can’t afford a system based solely on goodwill at this stage.”

So to recap – PLFs don’t do enough, people need to be tested, and the festive break wraps up. Keep reading for more.

Belgium in Brief is a free daily roundup of the top stories to get you through your lunch break conversations. To receive it straight to your inbox every day, sign up below:

1. End of goodwill: Returnees should prove they are covid free, expert warns

Belgian experts are calling for a mandatory coronavirus test result and quarantine for residents returning from travel, after fears that returning vacationers could send the country back into a coronavirus spike.

The current Passenger Locator Form – which is meant to keep track of where people have been – does not do enough, infectious disease expert Erika Vlieghe told Radio 1 on Wednesday. Read more.

2. What happens if you arrive in Belgium after curfew?

Belgium’s ongoing coronavirus curfew is causing concern for travellers returning to the country, with many wondering what will happen if their journey home forces the to arrive outside of curfew.

Under current measures, it is forbidden to be out in the streets or in public spaces after curfew unless it is for work or essential activities. Arguably, travel – especially for personal reasons – is not one of these things, but with the correct proof, there should be no problem. Read More.

3. Brussels ‘zone 30’: 5 things to know ahead of 1 January

In a little more than two days, the default maximum speed allowed in the majority of Brussels will become 30km/h.

Ahead of the launch, Brussels Minister of Mobility Elke Van Den Brandt (Groen) and Brussels Mobility issued a statement of five key points to remember ahead of the launch. Read More.

4. Reinforced border checks for travellers returning this weekend

Belgians returning from abroad will be subject to tighter border controls during the last weekend of the winter vacations, Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden announced Tuesday.

Tighter checks will be carried out by the federal at airports, train stations and on the roads, Verlinden said in a statement. “We must avoid reliving the situation we experienced in March. Belgians came back infected from their vacations, which accelerated the spread of the virus in our country,” she added. Read More.

5. Covid-19: Belgium’s new infections remain below 2,000 a day

Belgium’s average new coronavirus infections dropped below 2,000 a day yesterday, and today sees the decline continue, according to the latest figures published by the Sciensano public health institute on Wednesday.

Between 20 and 26 December, an average of 1,801.4 new people tested positive per day over the past week, which is a 29% decrease compared to the week before. Read More.

6. Covid-19: Once vaccinated, details go on a Belgian online database

Once the campaign of vaccination of the public in Belgium gets under way next week, the names of all of those who have been vaccinated will be entered into a database held by the government, a proposed new law has revealed.  Read more.

7. Cyclist who knocked over child spent a night in the cells

The cyclist who was filmed knocking over a small child as he made his way down a path in the Ardennes on Christmas Day has been ordered to appear in court on charges of assault, a local prosecutor said.

The video of the incident has made the rounds of social media, with the public sharply divided between those who clearly see a simple accident on a slippery track, and those who see, equally clearly, a selfish disregard for pedestrians by a cyclist who prefers to knock a child to the ground rather than slow down and dismount.  Read More.

Jules Johnston
The Brussels Times

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