Monday, 04 January 2021
A translation error on Belgium’s official coronavirus info website has left English-speaking travellers and residents with conflicting information which could lead to a hefty fine if they are not careful.
According to the English version of the official info-coronavirus.be website, travellers must complete the form “within 48 hours of [their] arrival in Belgium,” giving would-be arrivals a window to comply.
This information, as confirmed by the same page in French, Dutch and German, is not correct.
In fact, people who have been abroad for at least 48 hours have to fill out the Passenger Locator Form (PLF) before they set foot on Belgian territory, as set out in the rules announced by the Consultative Committee.
This information is also contradicted by the English language page FAQ, which states that the PLF should be filled out “no more than 48 hours before you leave for Belgium,” specifying that this could even be “one hour before departure.”
Travellers who have not completed the form risk fines of €250 per person, according to the authorities, meaning anyone following the initial advice is likely to face a nasty shock amid Belgium’s strict new enforcement push.
As travellers are returning from their holidays after the Christmas break, Belgium is doubling down on its checks on the document, with reinforced police controls at airports, train stations and borders.
This mistake was corrected after The Brussels Times called to request a comment. “It was a wrong translation of the text, and it has now been corrected,” said Crisis Centre spokesperson Yves Stevens.
Maïthé Chini & Jules Johnston
The Brussels Times