Following an electronic meeting of Belgium’s Consultative Committee yesterday, the country has put a temporary ban on all passenger traffic from India, Brazil and South Africa following the Indian variant of Covid-19 arriving in Belgium.
1. Temporary travel ban
Prime Minister Alexander De Croo’s cabinet made the announcement, stating all passenger transport , including transit traffic, to Belgium by flight, train, boat and bus, from India, Brazil and South Africa will be prohibited. A Ministerial Decree will soon be published by Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden and put into effect as soon as possible.
2. Exceptions to the rule
According the new rules, only “a very limited number of essential journeys” will be permitted, where an official certificate must be submitted showing the journey is essential. The following are classed as essential:
- Transport personnel and seafarers on professional journeys.
- Diplomats, staff of international organisations and persons invited by international organisations whose physical presence is indispensable for the proper functioning of these organisations, in the performance of their duties.
Exceptions to the testing and quarantine rules are also no longer applicable to either non-Belgian residents travelling from India to Belgium and staying for less than 48 hours, or Belgian residents returning to Belgium after a stay of fewer than 48 hours in India. These rules are already in place for South America, South Africa and the United Kingdom. Belgian nationals and those with Belgium as their main residence are still allowed to return from the three countries, however they are strongly advised not to travel there. Regarding controls and checks on arrivals to Belgium, the monitoring of anyone coming from any of the three countries will be prioritised for both the Passenger Locator Form (PLF) obligation and compliance with the obligatory testing and quarantine.
#WHO says #Indianvariant of #Covid19 has been detected in at least 17 nations including #Belgium, #Greece, #Switzerland & Italy. It says variant is more contagious than others present in #India & is behind #SecondCOVIDWave sweeping across the country. #MIG @ICMRDELHI pic.twitter.com/zu78GZMGBE— MEDIA INDIA GROUP (@mediaindiagroup) April 28, 2021
3. The new variant in Belgium
It is believed that the new Indian variant of Covid-19, which experts suspect is more contagious than others that have spread from one country to another, is currently contained in Belgium. In a press conference on Monday, Inge Neven of the Brussels Health Authority said the new variant was discovered last Wednesday, but was only known to be the Indian one on Monday. Inge Neven also said that in Brussels, all coronavirus infections are now predominantly cases of foreign variants, stating, “In 86% of the infections it concerns the British variant, five percent are infected with the South African variant and four percent with the Brazilian variant.” There are 24 cases of the variant currently known throughout the country: 20 among nursing students in Aalst, three in Antwerp and, as reported by Bruzz, 1 in the Saint-Josse neighbourhood of Brussels.
The federal government continues to closely monitor the epidemiological situation, and further consultation at the EU level is foreseen in order to ensure a coordinated approach, particularly Belgium’s neighbouring countries.