Flemish agency cannot fine 20 Belgians who returned from Spain by plane

Flemish agency cannot fine 20 Belgians who returned from Spain by plane
© Belga

The Flemish Agency for Care and Health cannot fine the 20 young people who tested positive for Covid-19 in Spain after a party holiday, yet returned to Belgium by plane instead of the scheduled buses.

On Saturday, the Agency had indicated that it was investigating the legal possibilities of imposing an administrative fine, after over 20 infected young people on party holiday with a youth travel organisation, took a plane back to Belgium using a loophole in the system, instead of the planned buses.

“However, the lawyers of the agency have indicated that we can only sanction when quarantine measures are violated here in Flanders, for example,” spokesperson Joris Moonens told the Belga news agency on Monday.

The legal department looked at the possibilities, but it seems that the agency does not have the authority to impose fines in such cases, according to him.

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Additionally, while hundreds of young people were brought back earlier via buses, of which at least one-third turned out to be infected, there is still uncertainty about the exact number of young people who returned to Belgium by plane.

“We have received the names of some infected young people who took the plane from the Summer Bash organisation. From Jongerentravel, we have no data yet,” Moonens added.

On Friday, some of the infected young people flew home, even though they tested positive for Covid-19, as their parents bought them tickets after finding a loophole in the system.

Currently, under the Digital Covid Certificate mechanism, people living in Belgium returning from a red zone only have to present their Passenger Locator Form (PLF) upon arrival.

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

Last weekend, however, both Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke and Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden stressed the airlines’ responsibility to carry out checks “in the interests of the health of everyone who travels by plane.”

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