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Belgium reduces quarantine exemptions

Credit: Pxhere

As vaccination coverage in Belgium increases, the exceptions to the country’s current quarantine rules are being adjusted, the Sciensano national health institute announced on Tuesday.

From now on, no exceptions to quarantine are allowed for people returning from a very high-risk area, according to Sciensano’s latest update.

“Given the possibility of vaccination and the exemption from quarantine for vaccinated persons, and taking into account reduced absenteeism, exceptions to the quarantine rule in the context of staff shortages in critical positions within key sectors – including the health sector – will no longer be permitted.”

In practice, this means that workers will no longer be allowed to leave quarantine to make up for a shortage of staff at work in important sectors.

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The only people who are completely exempt from quarantine or testing after coming back from a red zone abroad are those travelling for an essential or professional reason.

More specifically, this concerns people living in the border areas; transport staff; seafarers, tugboat crew, pilots and industrial staff working in offshore wind farms; people travelling in the context of cross-border co-parenting; pupils, students and interns travelling abroad in the context of their education; and the UK’s Border Force Officers.

“For persons returning from a ‘very high-risk area,’ no exceptions to the quarantine are allowed,” Sciensano added.

Additionally, unvaccinated healthcare workers are no longer partially exempt from quarantine after returning from a red zone.

The rules on high-risk contacts are also changing: the exceptions for people in critical positions in essential sectors, including the healthcare sector, no longer apply to unvaccinated high-risk contacts.

However, high-risk contacts who have been fully vaccinated or who had a diagnosis of Covid-19 less than 180 days previously, do not have quarantine after a first negative PCR test.