Thousands of travellers have returned to Belgium from red zones
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Thousands of travellers have returned to Belgium from red zones

Credit: Belga

Thousands of people have travelled back to Belgium from red zones in recent days, according to data collected through the so-called Passenger Locator Form.

The Passenger Locator Form is a form that has been mandatory since Saturday for anyone entering Belgium after a stay of at least 48 hours abroad. The form gathers information on people’s stay and their means of transport. By Monday morning, authorities had already received more than 200,000 forms, according to Federal Public Health Service (FPS Public Health) spokesperson Vinciane Charlier.

Between 1,500 and 2,000 people a day arrived from red zones. Travel to red zones is not allowed, and people returning from them face a mandatory 14-day quarantine and have to take a coronavirus test.

Meanwhile, between 7,000 and 9,000 people have entered the country from orange zones every day. These people are invited to contact their general practitioner to get tested and to be quarantined, but they are not obliged to.

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A follow-up of people’s quarantines is not in place yet. “By collecting data from contact tracing, travellers’ forms and laboratories, we can find out who has not yet been tested,” Secretary of the Interministerial Conference on Public Health Pedro Facon told Het Nieuwsblad.

The FPS Public Health’s figures may still be underestimated, as checks have shown that many people did not complete the form before they returned home. For example, police checked 51 vehicles on Saturday on the E-40 highway in Adinkerke (in the province of West Flanders), of which only 18 were in order.

From this week, officers will impose a fine if the form is not completed, said federal police spokesperson Jana Verdegem.

Belgium’s colour-coding is expected to be adapted, after a group of experts will discuss this on Tuesday. The current system is a source of frustration, both for travellers and for countries whose colours change.

The Brussels Times