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Belgium tightens rules for returning travellers

Credit: Belga

Belgium tightens its rules for travellers returning from a red zone, announced Prime Minister Alexander De Croo during a press conference on Monday.

“I want to start by giving some figures that are important in the current state of affairs. Today, we have more than eight out of ten adults who have received a first shot, putting us at the top of Europe,” De Croo said.

“And perhaps more importantly, of those with underlying conditions, more than three in four have been fully vaccinated,” he added. “However, we have to relax the measures step by step. We have to remain vigilant. People can still get sick.”

“We have seen in countries that relax too quickly that they have to take steps backwards,” De Croo said. “Our government does not want that.”

For travelling, the Consultative Committee decided on a new procedure, he announced.

People who have not been fully vaccinated and who are returning from an EU/Schengen country where variants are circulating must undergo a PCR test on day 1 and day 7. If the test is positive, a quarantine of 10 days is mandatory.

“These are the so-called VOC (variants of concern) countries,” De Croo specified, explaining that these would be the countries within the EU/Schengen where there is an increased circulation of variants.

“Currently, no EU/Schengen countries are on that list, but that can, of course, evolve and we must have the possibility of taking measures quickly,” he added.

Additionally, checks are being stepped up in airports and railway stations. “This applies to filling out the Passenger Locator Form (PLF) as well as to the coronavirus certificate,” De Croo said. “The test requirement will also be monitored more closely.”

From 13 August, outdoor events for 1,500 people or more can go ahead without coronavirus measures – such as face masks or social distancing – if they use the Covid Safe Ticket (which shows if someone has been vaccinated, tested negative for Covid-19, or recently recovered from the virus). There still has to be a crowd management plan and other sanitary measures such as ventilation.

For large events, like Pukkelpop, such a ticket linked to the Covidsafe app was already mandatory.

From 1 September, the same rules will apply to indoor events.

Additionally, the Consultative Committee also confirms the so-called “non-pharmaceutical interventions,” said De Croo. It concerns wearing face masks and keeping a distance in shops, in crowded places, on public transport, among other places.

“To sum up, I think that at the moment we are maintaining the necessary caution, but I do not think that there is a need to revise the steps that we outlined in the Summer Plan,” he added.

“The main thing is that we can ensure that the events can take place in a safe way. Of course, we have also looked at what has sometimes gone wrong in other countries.”

The next Consultative Committee will take place mid-August.

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