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    Last Thalys out of Paris

    Credit: Keven Menard Photography / Flickr CC

    Amid people rushing to get to a different country before mandatory quarantines come into effect, transport continues to run.

    As Belgium – and other countries – continue to steadily update their travel advice, many holidaymakers are left scrambling to make last-minute changes to their plans.

    So today, on the final day Belgians have to return from Paris before they face a “strongly recommended” quarantine – Thalys is the service people are after.

    Paris, as well as several other French departments, became red zones for Belgium this week. Fundamentally, this means that Belgians currently in Paris have until Friday 4:00 PM to return. After that, it is mandatory to get tested and quarantine.

    Otherwise, as long as the city is in the red zone, it is not allowed to go there for a trip, and if they are already there (or have to go there) a quarantine is required upon return.

    On the other hand, the quarantine will not be mandatory for people transiting through Paris from a non-red zone.

    However, unlike what happened after the surprise quarantine announcement for the UK two weeks ago, prices are not flying up. All standard ‘non-flexible’ tickets may be sold out, but there are still seats that can be changed, for a fee. Additionally, prices for other methods of travel, such as Flixbus, are also staying stable.

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    So what’s this Last Thalys comment all about?

    As essential travel – meaning for work or compelling family reasons – is still possible, operators Thalys and Izy have decided to keep their trains to the French capital running until 4 September, according to Thalys’ website (though this official tweet says 1 September). After that, it is yet to be seen what will happen.

    For anyone who has opted to cancel, more flexibility towards exchanges and refunds will be made possible.

    Travellers who have been in Paris for more than 48 hours before returning to Belgium have to fill out the Public Health Passenger Locator form. As they are returning from a red zone, they will then receive a QR code to get tested.

    Lastly, for people who still have to travel to Paris, the French capital has tightened its measures again and made it mandatory to wear a mask in all public areas.

    Jules Johnston, Maïthé Chini & Jason Spinks
    The Brussels Times