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Exemptions from testing and quarantine

You are required to quarantine and get tested when returning from a red zone abroad or if you came into contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. However, there are a few exceptions to this rule. Please find the list below.

General exemptions

In exceptional cases, you do not have get tested and/or quarantine. For certain essential journeys, you are allowed outside during your quarantine period.

Quarantine exemptions

General

Going outside is only permitted for the following essential activities that cannot be postponed until after the quarantine period has ended, and provided that particular attention is paid to hygiene measures, social distancing and wearing a (surgical) face mask:

  • Travel related to urgent medical care and access to medicines;
  • Travel to buy basic necessities, such as food, but only if no one else can provide them and by exception;
  • Travel for urgent legal/financial matters and parental authority, subject to proof;
  • Travel to provide urgent and necessary care for farm animals, if no one else can provide it;
  • Travel in the context of funerals / cremations.

After a stay abroad

Read more about quarantine after staying abroad.

If you are returning from a very high-risk country, there are no exceptions to testing or quarantine.

Testing exemptions

General

  • People who cannot have a sample taken for medical reasons and who are able to provide proof of this (medical certificate);
  • People who attend a test centre but for whom the doctor responsible for administering the test decides that a test cannot be administered.

After a stay abroad

Read more about quarantine after staying abroad.

If you are returning from a very high-risk country, there are no exceptions to testing or quarantine.

People who are completely exempt from quarantine and testing after staying abroad

Some people are completely exempt from quarantine or testing after returning/arriving from a red zone abroad for essential or professional reasons.

  • Border residents or frontier workers travelling in this capacity. A frontier worker is defined for this exemption as a worker employed in one country but having his place of residence in another country to which he returns as a rule daily or at least once a week. A frontier resident is defined for the purposes of this exemption as a resident of a frontier municipality or of a municipality immediately adjacent to a frontier municipality who goes to the neighbouring country for day-to-day living activities;
  • Transport staff responsible for the transport of goods and other transport personnel travelling when performing their duties;
  • Mariners, tug crews, pilots and industrial staff working at offshore wind farms (provided that the protocols drawn up to reduce the risk of contamination are strictly observed);
  • People travelling in the context of cross-border co-parenting;
  • Pupils, students and interns who travel abroad on a daily or weekly basis as part of their studies or a cross-border internship;
  • Border pupils travelling to and from school in the context of compulsory education or higher and adult education;
  • Border Force Officers from the United Kingdom.

Please note: People who have had a positive PCR test two months prior to their return do not need to quarantine again nor do they require testing. For persons who were at any time during the last 14 days in the territory of countries classified as very high risk, there are no exceptions with regard to having a negative test result or an EU Digital COVID Certificate.

If you are returning from a very high-risk country, there are no exceptions to testing or quarantine.

List of people who are partially exempt from quarantine

Only after staying abroad

Some people are partially exempt from quarantine after returning/arriving from a red zone abroad for essential or professional reasons.

The quarantine exemption only applies to:

  • either essential travel to Belgium;
  • or the performance of professional activities in Belgium after returning from a red zone for essential or professional reasons.

For the remainder of the time (e.g. leisure time, weekends, holidays and evenings) the person concerned must remain in quarantine.

  • Pupils, students and interns in the context of exams or a compulsory task;
  • Members of the diplomatic and consular community, holders of an office, elected and official representatives of international organisations and institutions based in Belgium whilst performing essential activities which cannot be carried out remotely or by video conference;
  • Heads of State and Government, members of parliament and senior officials, diplomatic, consular and technical staff on professional missions whilst performing essential activities which cannot be carried out remotely or by video conference;
  • Staff of an international organisation or people invited by such an organisation whose physical presence is necessary for the proper functioning of that organisation, including inspectors of nuclear facilities;
  • Seasonal workers (provided that the protocols drawn up to reduce the risk of contamination are strictly observed);
  • People travelling for compelling family reasons (hospitalisation due to a serious illness, preterminal situation, death);
  • Highly qualified people travelling for economically necessary reasons which cannot be postponed (determined, where relevant, by the employer in consultation with the company doctor - given that the latter must be aware of the possible risks at work). This includes professional sportsmen and women, professionals in the cultural sector and scientific researchers travelling for work;
  • Journalists when travelling for work;
  • Passengers in transit who are staying less than 48 hours in Belgium.
  • Patients travelling for urgent medical reasons or the continuation of an urgent medical treatment;
  • People travelling to provide assistance or care to an elderly person, minor, disabled or vulnerable person

Please note: these people must fulfil the following conditions:

  • in a general sense, they may have no symptoms;
  • they may not be a high-risk contact of someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 living under the same roof;
  • they may not have tested positive for COVID-19;
  • they must avoid close contact with other people;
  • they must not use public transport where possible;
  • they are unable to telework;
  • they must respect the social distancing rules and always wear a (surgical) face mask properly at work;
  • they must limit their contact with other employees: in practice, this means separate entrances and exits as much as possible, separate changing rooms and separate break and eating areas.

Please note: People who have had a positive PCR test two months prior to their return do not need to quarantine again nor do they require testing. For persons who were at any time during the last 14 days in the territory of countries classified as very high risk, there are no exceptions with regard to having a negative test result or an EU Digital COVID Certificate.

If you are returning from a very high-risk country, there are no exceptions to testing or quarantine.

After staying abroad or after having had contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

The quarantine exemption only applies to:

  • either essential travel to Belgium;
  • or the performance of essential professional activities in Belgium.

For the remainder of the time (e.g. leisure time, weekends, holidays and evenings) the person concerned must remain in quarantine.

  • (subject to employer certificate where relevant) Most exceptionally, asymptomatic people performing essential activities who are (a) health care professionals or (b) professionals providing assistance and care to vulnerable people and provided that the performance of their duties is absolutely necessary to ensure a minimum basic level of care and provided that (i) they wear a (surgical) face mask, (ii) comply with the hygiene measures, (iii) actively monitor their body temperature and COVID-19 symptoms, (iv) keep a minimum distance of 1.5 meters from staff, (v) limit social contacts outside of work, (vi) do not use public transport and (vii) respect the travel ban;
  • (subject to employer certificate where relevant) Employees who, due to the nature of their work in laboratories, come into contact with the virus that causes COVID-19.
  • People employed in an essential sector as listed in Annex 1 of the MO of 28 October 2020, where their work meets the following cumulative criteria:
  • urgent request (determined by the employer in consultation with the company doctor - given that the latter must be aware of the possible risks at work);
  • essential situation (determined by the employer in consultation with the company doctor - given that the latter must be aware of the possible risks at work);
  • indispensable and irreplaceable job role that is described in the company’s Business Continuity Plan. The employees of companies that do not have a Business Continuity Plan will never be able to benefit from this quarantine exemption;
  • the continuity of the company’s essential services is threatened in the short term (duration of the quarantine);
  • all other alternatives to resolve the issue have been considered and are inadequate.

The employer provides the Committee for Prevention and Protection at Work and the company doctor with a list of the people concerned. Upon approval by the company’s Committee for Prevention and Protection at Work, the quarantine exemption is approved and a nominative list of affected individuals is maintained on a daily basis.

Please note: these people must fulfil the following conditions:

  • in a general sense, they may have no symptoms;
  • they may not be a high-risk contact of someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 living under the same roof;
  • they may not have tested positive for COVID-19;
  • they must avoid close contact with other people;
  • they must not use public transport where possible;
  • they are unable to telework;
  • they must respect the social distancing rules and always wear a (surgical) face mask properly at work;
  • they must limit their contact with other employees: in practice, this means separate entrances and exits as much as possible, separate changing rooms and separate break and eating areas.

More information

The decrees of the Communities and Regions on quarantine and testing can be found here: