Half of travellers returning to Belgium do not complete PLF

Half of travellers returning to Belgium do not complete PLF
Credit: Belga

About half of all travellers returning to Belgium do not complete their Passenger Locator Form (PLF) to monitor infections, according to figures from Saniport, which follows up on the inflow of those forms.

Regardless of the colour code of the region they are coming from, all returning travellers have to fill out their PLF in the 48 hours before their arrival in Belgium.

"We receive about 200,000 forms a week in July," Gino Claes, head of the Crisis Management Department at the Federal Public Health Service (of which Saniport is part) told Het Nieuwsblad.

"That number is higher than at the end of June, when it was 125,000 PLFs per week," he added.

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However, people will make over four million trips abroad this summer, according to an estimate based on data from Belgium's statistical office Statbel. With 200,000 PLFs per week for the entire summer, that means a total of only two million forms would be completed, leading Claes to conclude that about half of people do not complete it.

The majority of the completed forms - 120,000 out of 200,000 - come from people returning to Belgium by plane, where stricter checks are happening during the summer, according to him.

The big blind spot in Belgium is car travellers, as car checks at the border are few and far between compared to checks at the airport, according to Karine Moykens of the Interfederal Committee for Testing & Tracing.

"The car remains a sore point. You cannot close the border and check every car. That would lead to endless traffic jams," she said. "Fortunately, the police have committed to stepping up spot checks at the border. That is necessary."

However, the authorities are urging people to make sure they have their papers in order, whether they get checked or not.

"Belgium has a very high vaccination rate, and we give maximum reward for that effort by telling people that they are free to go on holiday," Moykens said.

"All we ask is that they get tested when they return from a red zone, and for those who are fully vaccinated, not even that," she said. "That is a minimal effort."

According to Claes of Saniport, however, the travellers that do fill out the PLF effectively also stick to the rules. "80% of the people who are contacted by us because they have to get tested actually do so," he said.

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