Belgium wants ‘random’ police checks at borders for car travellers
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Belgium wants ‘random’ police checks at borders for car travellers

Credit: Politie Westkust/Facebook

There should be “random” police controls at Belgium’s borders to check travellers returning from holiday by car, according to Federal Public Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke.

Travellers returning to Belgium from red zones by car should be subject to stricter controls, “by means of random checks” by police at the borders, he told VTM News on Sunday.

However, while random checks at the border are possible, clear guidelines for the police will be needed, according to Stefaan Vannieuwenhuyse of the Grensleie police zone (Menen, Wevelgem and Ledegem), on the border with France.

“We have 16 border crossings in our zone. We will see what we can do,” he said on Flemish radio on Monday morning.

Foreigners entering Belgium have to be able to present a Covid Certificate (negative test or vaccination), but for returning Belgian residents, only the PLF is required.

“With the PLF, however, the sincerity of the completion is a very important parameter. It is not so obvious to check this in the field,” Vannieuwenhuyse said. “We hope that people will do that right.”

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Checks will be limited anyway due to the limited staffing in the summer months, according to him.

“Our people also have other tasks, the events sector is starting up again. It’s all hands on deck,” Vannieuwenhuyse said. “So that will be limited in time and space. People will always be slipping through the cracks.”

For people travelling by plane, it is up to airlines to check better whether travellers have been tested or vaccinated before departure. If they do not check, they risk fines, according to Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden.

“They have to comply with the rules. We have explicitly stated that it is their responsibility to carry out these checks in the interests of the health of everyone who travels by plane,” she told VTM News on Sunday.

In recent days, the rules for returning travellers were the subject of discussion, as at least 20 young people flew back to Belgium from a party holiday in Spain, even though they tested positive for Covid-19, as their parents bought them tickets after finding a loophole in the system.

As people without a Covid Certificate have to be tested upon return in Belgium, and have to remain in quarantine until the test result is negative, airline companies do not ask for a negative PCR test from Belgians who want to return home.

“We cannot be strict enough about that,” said Vandenbroucke, adding that he advises people who have not yet been fully vaccinated not to travel to countries like Spain and Portugal.