Children returning from holidays not allowed to go to school on Monday
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Children returning from holidays not allowed to go to school on Monday

Credit: Belga/Christof Ketels

Belgium’s stricter rules for returning travellers mean that children who have been on Christmas holiday will not be allowed to go to school right away in January.

Following a last-minute meeting on Wednesday afternoon, the Consultative Committee announced tighter rules for all people who want to enter Belgium after staying in a red travel zone for at least 48 hours, including a mandatory quarantine and extra Covid-19 test on day 1 and 7.

The quarantine obligation also applies to children, according to Prime Minister Alexander De Croo. “They cannot go to school,” he confirmed on VTM News on Wednesday evening.

Starting from today (31 December), all people returning from a red zone – which is currently almost the whole of Europe – have to be tested on the first day and quarantine.

On day 7 of their quarantine, they have to take a second Covid-19. If that is negative, people can leave their quarantine.

This means that children of families returning from holidays will miss the first few days of school, which is set to start again on Monday 4 January.

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According to the previous rules, travellers entering Belgium from a red zone had to complete a self-assessment on the Passenger Locator Form (PLF) to determine whether or not they had to quarantine upon return.

The system, however, received a lot of criticism for “not [being] safe or solid enough,” according to experts, with many not trusting travellers to be honest in their self-assessment.

“We have seen in recent weeks that the evolution of the figures in our country is going in the right direction, we are succeeding in avoiding a third wave,” De Croo said.

“But we see that most other countries in Europe have figures that are much worse, we also see that a new variant of the coronavirus has emerged that is much more contagious,” he added.

In a reaction to the many questions about what the new rules mean for people currently on holiday, against De Croo’s pointed to the previous Consultative Committee, when he strictly discouraged travelling.

“Those who chose not to travel are now not faced with unforeseen circumstances today,” he said.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times