At the Consultative Committee meeting on Tuesday, the Belgian authorities decided to relax the testing policy for travellers entering the country from the United Kingdom.
The decision was made following complaints from several federal MPs that UK travellers were staying away due to the “hassle” caused by the combination of Brexit and the pandemic – which meant they had to present not only a vaccination certificate but also a negative PCR test to enter Belgium.
“From now on, that test can also be a rapid antigen test,” Tom Meulenbergs, spokesperson for Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, told The Brussels Times.
Like the PCR test, the rapid antigen test requires a nasal swab carried out by a professional, but it only takes about 15 minutes before the result of the test is known.
With the autumn holidays approaching, the relaxed testing policy could be a significant boost for Belgian tourism, as the period around 11 November usually sees large groups of British tourists flock to the West-Flemish city of Ypres to commemorate Armistice Day.
Under the new rules, vaccinated travellers from the UK still have to get tested on day 1 or 2 after they arrive in Belgium, and have to quarantine until they receive their negative result. On day 7, they have to get tested again.
However, in the case of the now-accepted rapid tests, quarantining is no longer needed as the result is known in about 15 minutes.
For non-vaccinated travellers (who do not have a recovery certificate either), the same rules apply. However, in addition to the tests on days 1 and 7, they are also obliged to get tested within 72 hours before they arrive in Belgium, according to the authorities.
Once in Belgium, they have to quarantine for ten days, but the quarantine can be shortened if the result of the test on day 7 is negative.
Additionally, all UK travellers wishing to enter Belgium are required to complete the Passenger Locator Form (PLF), regardless of their vaccination status.
The other rules agreed on by the Consultative Committee can be found here.