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Belgium wants a temporary ban on non-essential travel

Credit: Belga

The idea of banning non-essential travel abroad is gaining a lot of ground in Belgium’s federal government, several sources said after a meeting on Wednesday.

Even though a ban on non-essential travel to combat the spread of the more infectious Covid-19 variants seemed unlikely on Monday, the new infections seem to have changed the situation, and put the ban on the table, reports Belga.

On Wednesday evening, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo also told VRT NWS that he wants to implement a temporary ban on non-essential travel, such as tourism, and will make a proposal at the EU summit on Thursday.

“When you travel you take virus with you in your suitcase,” he said, adding that “we have to protect the good position in our country.”

“In Belgium, we have made a concerted effort to keep the coronavirus under control,” a federal government source told De Morgen.

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“We now want to protect that effort, through a temporary and targeted halt to non-essential travel. That way, you also send a signal to your population that everyone has to follow the rules and that no one is allowed to go on holiday.”

The precise implementation of such a measure is a puzzle, however, as the definition of non-essential travel and the application of the measure are not straight-forward.

The ban requires agreements with the Regions, and the authorities also want to avoid certain collateral effects such as the blocking of goods in a neighbouring country, for example.

For clarity: no decision has been taken yet, as the government is waiting for a European summit on Thursday, where EU leaders will try to agree on measures to stop the pandemic.

On Friday, several of the federal government’s key ministers will meet again before the Consultative Committee later on the same day.

Update: This story has been updated to include comments by Prime Minister Alexander De Croo.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times