Second-home owners want exception to Belgium's 'illogical' travel ban

Second-home owners want exception to Belgium's 'illogical' travel ban
Credit: Brussels Airport

The owners of a second home abroad want to legally challenge Belgium's ban on non-essential travel, hoping to obtain an exception.

"We are not in favour of uncontrolled tourist trips, but we do want to make this possible for second-home owners," Jos Dumortier of non-profit organisation Tweres told Het Laatste Nieuws.

A group of second-home owners aim to submit a petition to the Council of State, the legal body which deals with cases questioning the legality of the decisions of all levels of government.

The fact that second-home owners are not exempted from the ban is "illogical," according to them, "because if you leave, you can no longer spread the coronavirus in Belgium. It would be more logical to ban people from entering the country."

"First, however, we are investigating the chances of success and we want to be sure that there are enough interested parties to join the procedure," said Dumortier.

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At the end of January, Belgium's Consultative Committee decided that non-essential travel abroad would be banned for people whose main residence is in Belgium until 1 March, a measure that has now been extended until 1 April.

Exceptions are made for several reasons, such as business trips or journeys for studies or compelling family reasons. However, journeys by owners to their second residence are not included on the list.

The non-profit also pointed out that people with a second residence abroad do not always intend to return to Belgium in the short term, according to Het Nieuwsblad.

"They often look for that residence for a longer period of time and they often also stay far away from busy tourist areas," they said, adding that the ban is "unjustified and disproportionate."

Second-home owners do not like to leave their property unattended for long periods, according to them, adding that they often take advantage of the winter months to carry out repairs - which is especially important for owners who want to rent out their property.

Additionally, there are also Belgians who travel to warmer countries for long periods every year for a fixed period of time. "Why these people should be stopped at the border is a mystery to us," they said. "The choices about who is and who is not allowed to cross the border are very arbitrary."

Maïthé Chini

The Brussels Times

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