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Belgium in Brief: New Travel Rules (Once Again)

Credit: Belga/Pixabay

After several previous changes – due to rising figures abroad and a more infectious coronavirus variant in the United Kingdom – Belgium has once again adapted its rules for travel.

This time, the changes were decided during a last-minute meeting of the Consultative Committee on Wednesday afternoon following calls from several experts, who were worried about what could happen when travellers return after the Christmas holidays.

Starting from the last day of 2020, anyone (residents and non-residents) who has spent more than 48 hours in a red travel zone has to go into mandatory quarantine, and undergo two PCR tests, on day 1 and day 7, when back in Belgium.

This way, the country no longer relies on people’s (dis)honesty when completing the Passenger Locator Form (PLF), which analyses their behaviour to determine whether or not they have to quarantine – a system deemed “not safe or solid enough” by experts.

In other news, Belgium is expecting more snow today and possibly even tonight.

For more, keep reading.

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1. Belgium makes ‘day 1’ covid test mandatory for all red zone arrivals

Belgium once again tightened measures for returning travellers from midnight, according to a press release following Wednesday’s last-minute meeting of the Consultative Committee.

The new measures can be found here.

2. Belgium announces systematic checks on returning travellers in stations and airports

Belgium will step up checks for travellers entering Belgium to ensure their passenger locator forms are fully completed, Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden warned on Wednesday.

There will be systematic checks at railway stations, ports and airports – in other words, any place where people enter Belgium with public transport – and there will be regular checks at the borders for those travelling by car, Verlinden said. Read More.

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

Belgium’s stricter rules for incoming 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. Read More.

4. 2021: Here’s what changes the New Year brings – that we know about

Typically, at the end of one year, the press offers a forecast of the changes that will take place in the year to come.

No-one at the end of 2019 could have predicted what 2020 would become. But we haven’t learned our lesson. Here are some of the changes planned for 2021. Read More.

5. Belgium’s daily coronavirus infections continue to drop

Belgium’s daily average new coronavirus infections continue to drop, according to the latest figures published by the Sciensano public health institute on Thursday.

Between 21 and 27 December, an average of 1,789.9 new people tested positive per day over the past week, which is a 29% decrease compared to the week before. Read More.

6. Flemish education minister posts comedy New Year message

Flemish education minister Ben Weyts has sent out an unusual New Year’s message to the world: in the form of a comic video posted on YouTube.

In the video, in a setting familiar to any fan of sketch comedy, Ben Weyts is in his office in January 2020 when a masked visitor bursts in. The man announces himself as Ben Weyts from December 2020. Read more.

7. Weather report: snow expected on last day of 2020

Snow is expected in Belgium on Thursday, according to a forecast by Belgium’s Royal Meteorological Institute (RMI).

The snow is likely to fall in the south and the centre of Belgium, according to the RMI, with between 5 and 10 centimetres of snow expected in the Ardennes. Meanwhile, the north of Belgium can expect a heavy cloud cover and showers. Read More.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times