Crossing the border while exercising is still allowed, police assure
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Crossing the border while exercising is still allowed, police assure

Credit: Belga

People who (accidentally) cross Belgium’s border while exercising do not have to worry about getting fined for violating the ban on non-essential travel.

From today, anyone wanting to leave or enter Belgium must carry a sworn statement with them, declaring that their trip falls under a category of journeys that are considered essential by the authorities, but people accidentally crossing the border while exercising will not be sanctioned if they don’t have it.

“It was decided that we will enforce on the essence of the measure,” Nico Paelinck, chairman of the Permanent Committee of the local police, said on Flemish radio.

Hikers, joggers or cyclists from the border region whose tour takes them across the border will not be targeted by police services, he stressed. “We are not going to organise a witch hunt for people who are just exercising.”

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“If we check people from the Ghent region at the border with France, with a car full of suitcases, we know what is going on,” Paelinck said. “The ban is for those people, the ones who are leaving to travel.”

There was some confusion about the measure on Tuesday, before the clarification in the Ministerial Decree was published, as many believed the police would carry out checks in the middle of nature parks or walking routes that cross the border with the Netherlands.

On Twitter, Belgian virologist Marc Van Ranst addressed the claims, stating that he hoped it concerned fake news.

Patrick De Smedt of the police zone in the border municipality of Kalmthout in the Antwerp province clarified to VRT that crossing the border in the municipality’s heathland is not a problem. “That has nothing to do with the current pandemic. Tourist travel is what is currently prohibited.”

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times