Belgium is stepping up its restrictive measures. It decided Friday, January 22 to ban “non-essential” travel to and from its territory from Wednesday, until March 1. “We are not going to build a wall around Belgium, we can go to other countries but only for essential reasons”Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said in the early evening. The Flemish liberal leader was speaking at a press conference after a government meeting, involving the heads of regional executives, to take stock of the epidemic.
“The situation has stabilized in recent weeks”, around 2,000 new Covid-19 infections per day, but “the danger has not disappeared”, he said. Alexander De Croo pointed out the variants of the virus “much more contagious” in circulation in Europe. Hence the need to “build ramparts, lines of defense”. As of Monday, travelers from the United Kingdom, South Africa and South America (three geographical areas where a different variant has appeared) will have to observe a quarantine of ten days upon arrival in Belgium, with two compulsory tests on the first and seventh days.
For other foreigners traveling on business, two negative tests must be produced, one carried out on departure in the country of origin, the other on arrival, the Prime Minister said.
Belgians will only be allowed to leave the borders for compelling reasons (exercising co-parenting, medical treatment, justified professional reasons). Are forbidden “leisure or pleasure trips, there will be border controls with fines”, ex-Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo, president of the Walloon region, told RTBF television channel. Frontier workers are not, however, concerned.
By banning non-essential travel abroad (including within the Schengen free movement area), Belgium is taking the lead in relation to EU recommendations. At the end of a summit of the leaders of the Twenty-Seven on Thursday evening, the European Union had called for avoiding pleasure travel in the face of a health situation deemed “very serious”.