The federal government and the federated entities have tightened travel restrictions. This has been done to minimise the risk of importing infections through travellers and to prevent the possible spread of the new variant of COVID-19.
The Consultative Committee has established that the level of infection in our country is currently lower than in other countries. The increase in the number of confirmed cases is also lower in our country than in other countries. Furthermore, there is a strong indication that a new variant of COVID-19, currently circulating in the United Kingdom, is much more contagious.
In order to reduce the risk of international travel accelerating the spread of COVID-19, the Consultative Committee has decided to tighten travel restrictions as follows:
- Mandatory quarantine after a stay of more than 48 hours in a red zone. From now on, all stays in a red zone are defined as high-risk events. As a result, as from 31 December 2020, everyone (both residents and non-residents) returning to Belgium after a stay of at least 48 hours in a red zone will have to quarantine. Quarantine can only end after a negative PCR test on day 7 of the quarantine.
This measure will be in force until at least 15 January. Strict exemptions are allowable in only a limited number of cases:
- For people with critical roles in essential sectors, working on site may be permitted, subject to a certificate from the employer (in accordance with the decision of the Interministerial Conference on Public Health of 2 December 2020);
- Students are allowed to interrupt quarantine in order to take an exam (only to take the exam);
- For residents who were abroad for professional reasons, an exemption from quarantine is possible until 4 January, if it concerns professional travel abroad certified by the employer. As from 4 January 2021, the assessment of the Passenger Location Form will take into account professional travel certified by the employer.
- PCR test on return on day 1 and day 7. Residents returning from a red zone and staying there for more than 48 hours must undergo a mandatory test on day 1 and day 7 of quarantine. As from Saturday 2 January 2021, passengers will receive a text message upon their return with which they can register at a test centre. The testing capacity at Brussels Airport will be further expanded to allow incoming travellers to be tested voluntarily upon arrival. Test capacity is being developed at Charleroi Airport and at Brussels-Midi station.
- Additional checks or people returning from abroad. A special effort will be made to strengthen the control of these measures for cross-border traffic. This includes checking the Passenger Location Form and the mandatory negative test for non-residents.
These reinforced measures come in addition to the decisions of the Consultative Committee which, among other things, provided for stricter control of the Passenger Locator Form and, since 25 December 2020, required a negative test for non-residents entering our country.