Returnees from risk areas can’t yet be required to self-isolate by law

The Flemish government wants to oblige people returning from coronavirus risk areas to take a test and self-isolate.  At present the legal framework isn’t in place to oblige preventative testing and self-isolation for returnees. Flemish health minister Beke speaks of a moral obligation, but adds that the government is looking into how this can be made mandatory.

The initiative comes after the Risk Management Group that decides on what measures are needed to protect the population from coronavirus based on analysis of the risk judged that people returning from risk areas are to be seen as high risk contacts and should observe the same restrictions.

High risk contacts are people who have been in close contact with a corona patient for over a quarter of an hour.  They are asked to self-isolate for a fortnight and get tested at the start of the self-isolation and possibly also at least nine days after returning and at least five days after the first test.  If the second test is negative, self-isolation is no longer required.

But what if returnees are not minded to self-isolate?  Belgian health minister De Block says that at the minute there is to legal framework in place to require people who haven’t tested positive to self-isolate.

Flemish health minister Beke adds that the Flemish government is looking into this.

“No sanction can be imposed at the minute. We are looking at how the legislation can be re-enforced.  There is a moral obligation and a sense of public responsibility.  This is about the health of citizens.”

The matter is to be discussed by representatives of Belgium’s regions on Tuesday.  

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