Tourists in limbo as Belgium can’t decide on stricter travel rules for Portugal
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Tourists in limbo as Belgium can’t decide on stricter travel rules for Portugal

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Tourists wanting to book a trip to Portugal are left in limbo as Belgium’s authorities cannot agree on possible stricter travel rules for returning travellers in light of delta coronavirus variants.

There is no clarity yet on stricter travel rules for Portugal, which is seeing an increasing circulation of the more infectious delta variant – a decision that should be made by a digital Consultative Committee, but it is not yet clear when this will take place, reports VRT.

On Thursday, Federal Public Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke proposed to implement stricter rules for travellers returning from the country, which would see those not yet fully vaccinated take two tests and possibly go into mandatory quarantine.

The proposal was discussed, but Belgium’s different Regions have failed to reach an agreement, leading to uncertainty for would-be travellers, and annoyance on Vandenbroucke’s part, he told VTM News.

“If we do not decide soon, it will be pointless,” he said, adding that his proposal does have the support of the experts in the advisory groups.

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As of Thursday, the EU’s Digital Covid Certificate system has been officially implemented, which means that travel restrictions within the EU can be lifted for people with a negative test result, a certificate of full vaccination or a recovery certificate after infection.

Currently, Portugal is coloured orange on the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC)’s travel map, which means that with a Covid certificate, travellers can return without having to get tested and or quarantine.

However, as the number of infections in the country has recently been rising sharply due to the delta variant again, Vandenbroucke is looking to change that, for fear that Belgian travellers would bring the variant back to Belgium.

“Think twice if you go to Portugal. Do not travel there if you are not fully vaccinated,” he said. “That is advice that I give to anyone who is concerned about their own health and that of other people. There are lockdowns there again. That is not a country I would travel to.”

In the meantime, tourists and travel organisations are asking for clarity as soon as possible, as the summer season has just started and travellers do not want to be hit with an unpleasant surprise once they are there.

“The young people are very keen to leave, but many parents are worried,” Jordy ‘s Jongers of the Summerbash youth travel organisation told VRT.

“We would like to know in advance if our young people will have to go into quarantine when they return from Portugal,” he added. “Then we can decide whether or not to let the trips that are planned go ahead.”