According to a new Ministerial Decree published yesterday, Belgium will officially lift its ban on non-essential travel abroad on 19th April, after the Easter holidays. The latest update of the Ministerial Decree, published in the Belgian Official Journal by Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden, says the article declaring the travel ban will be replaced as of this date.
1. Return to previous travel rules
The Belgian travel ban on non-essential travel abroad entered into force on 27th January, however as of 19th April Belgium will return to its previous rules for travel. People from outside the European Union will not be allowed to travel to Belgium for non-essential reasons, however people in Belgium will be allowed to visit other EU countries again, although this remains strongly discouraged as it was before the ban.
Whilst the ban was first introduced with the aim of stopping people from travelling abroad during the carnival holidays, it was extended several times, leading to repeated criticism from the EU due to the fact that the ban goes beyond European recommendations. Increased pressure from the European Commission to drop the ban is what led to the recent announcement.
J’ai eu un appel avec la Ministre de l’Interieur @AnneliesVI :— Didier Reynders (@dreynders) March 19, 2021
🇧🇪 est tenue de respecter le principe de libre circulation dans l’Union. La Commission attend :
-une date de fin de l’interdiction des voyages non-essentiels et
-des mesures moins restrictives (tests et quarantaines) pic.twitter.com/bfWSneE8bN
2. Pressure from the European Commission
On Friday, European Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders announced via Twitter that the Commission wanted an official end date for Belgium’s travel restrictions. In a twitter conversation with Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden, Reynders insisted that Belgium must respect the principle of free movement of persons in the EU. “The Commission expects an end date for the ban on non-essential travel, and other less restrictive measures, such as testing and quarantines,” he said.
Following yesterday’s Consultative Committee, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo confirmed that the ban will remain in force until 18th April, the last day of the Easter holidays, provided the agreement on mandatory testing and quarantine of travellers is approved.
According to Verlinden, “The importance of a quick entry into force of the cooperation agreement on testing and quarantine” was also discussed, as well as the Commission’s proposal of the Digital Green Certificate, which it presented last week with the hopes of enabling free travel in the EU again this summer.
Overleg met Europese commissaris @dreynders over de coronareisbeperkingen, het belang van een snelle inwerkingtreding van het samenwerkingsakkoord rond testing en quarantaine en het @EU_Commission voorstel van #DigitalGreenCertificate. @BelgiumEU pic.twitter.com/pqoCYNjTgr— Annelies Verlinden (@AnneliesVl) March 19, 2021