Nobody is checking travellers at Belgium’s borders, locals say
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Nobody is checking travellers at Belgium’s borders, locals say

Credit: Belga

Locals at the Belgian border have reported that people are travelling in and out of the country as usual, despite Belgian Minister of Justice Vincent Van Quickenborne announcing on 7 February there would definitely be checks following the decision to extend the non-essential travel ban.

Citizens living in Belgian border towns highlighted that not much has changed since the ban was announced, according to reports from the Luxembourg border work resource site Les Frontaliers.

A pharmacist in the municipality of Arlon said that, although police had planned strict checks, she has never seen a single police officer do them.

“Honestly, I move without any worries between Luxembourg and Belgium and even to France. I do my shopping in both countries. For the hairdresser, I even go to Luxembourg,” she added.

Another local construction worker in Belgium said the main problem is that the government simply does not have enough officers to carry out extensive checks at the borders.

From his construction site, he sometimes observes the number plates of the cars entering the country, he told Les Frontaliers, emphasising that they “come from many different places and, above all, a lot of them are coming into Belgium.”

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Police will be carrying out checks during holidays

Saturday marks the beginning of a week-long break from work and school for many Belgians, however, restrictions on non-essential travel to and from the country will remain in place during the carnival holidays (from 15 to 21 February).

Targeted border checks will be carried out by police during this week and strict action will be taken where necessary, according to Nicholas Paelinck, chief of police for the West Coast region and chairman of the Permanent Commission of Local Police (VCLP).

“The local and federal police will be carrying out checks at the borders through structured actions and targeted patrols,” Paelinck announced. “If someone commits a violation, every person will receive a fine per person and be sent back.”

These police controls will be based entirely on decisions from the Ministerial Decree, Paelinck explained: “This means that, for those who are exempt, including cross-border workers or those travelling for compelling family reasons, there will be no problem.”

Also included in these exceptions is “travel as part of the daily life of border municipalities and border regions,” which potentially could lead to discussions at border control points, however Paelinck explained that border regions “know perfectly well what constitutes as part of daily life.”

Travel within Belgium is still permitted throughout the carnival holidays. Non-essential travel to and from the country has been banned until 1 April.

Lauren Walker
The Brussels Times