Belgium has announced tighter measures for border crossings to curb the spread of the coronavirus during the end-of-year period, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo announced during a press conference on December 18th.
“The number of new infections per day is 10 times lower than it was eight weeks ago, because together we followed the rules,” he said. “But if we were to ease the measures now the situation would go in the wrong direction.”
The Belgian Prime Minister announced tighter border controls to try to contain the spread of Covid-19 cases. Non-residents who want to enter Belgium will have to show a negative Covid-19 test certificate. Exceptions will be made for travelers arriving for work reasons. Any non-essential kind of travel remains strongly discouraged. The Prime Minister underlined how crucial it’s becoming to stop any risk of travelers arriving infected with the virus.
“Traveling abroad is a very bad idea,” said Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke. “If you are not a legal resident in Belgium, you’ll need to show a negative test from Christmas onwards. If you don’t have one, you won’t get in.”
Individuals who have been abroad for more than 48 hours will be regarded as a high-risk contacts, and will have to quarantine for seven days. This will be in addition to the required Passenger Locator Form (PLF), which needs to be filled out by every arriving passenger. Stricter checks on this procedure will also be conducted.
The exchange of data between the Sciensano database and the local authorities and police will be enhanced, which in turn will improve the monitoring of the quarantine measures. There will also be stricter controls on teleworking. Companies found to have breached the rules will face “severe fines.”
For Christmas, De Croo pleaded with citizens to celebrate in a small group of people. Individuals can only invite one extra person into their household, and people living alone can invite two. The curfew in Flanders remains the same, from midnight to 5:00 AM, while in the Brussels-Capital Region and Wallonia will be in force from 10:00 PM to 6:00 AM.
“There is light at the end of the tunnel,” De Croo said. “We may be able to start vaccinating this year.” It is important to note however, that “it will be months before everyone has been vaccinated. Maybe not until after the summer.”
The new border control system will be deployed over the next few days, according to Vandenbroucke. People going abroad despite the government’s call for vigilance and reduced movement will notice the changes upon return.