Up to six months in gaol if you don't self-isolate and take a corona test after returning from ‘red’ areas

Belgium is to introduce a system to allow for a safe return of tourists and travellers from abroad.  The system that employs a traffic light colour code will be identical across the country’s regions.  Representatives of the federal and devolved governments struck a deal on Wednesday. Returning travellers who don’t comply with the new restrictions face up to six months in gaol and a fine of up to 4,000 euros.

Under the system foreign parts will be colour-coded.  Red will apply to areas (cities, municipalities, districts or even entire countries) where a new spike in coronavirus has led to a lockdown.  These are the areas of highest risk.  People returning from red areas will be obliged to take a corona test and to self-isolate (i.e. go into quarantine at home). Belgium will also ban travel to these areas. Areas that are not under lockdown can also be added to the red list.

Amber will apply to areas where there is a significant threat to public health, but where no lockdown has been instigated.  A test and self-isolation will not be mandatory, but will be highly recommended. Belgium will advise against travel to these areas.

Green will apply to other countries that can be visited and which require no special measures.  Still, people travelling abroad are advised to take their precautions, wherever the head.

A special working party will now decide which colour each region or country will get. 31 countries (and regions in these countries) now need to be colour-coded. The Belgian foreign ministry has already published a list of countries with red, amber and green colour codes on its website with travel advise, but the list still needs to be finalised in light of the introduction of the new system.

People about to leave should make decisions based on the current information on the foreign ministry website.

Belgian regions that are responsible for testing and self-isolation will now have to legislate to enact the present agreement and its implications.  The Flemish Parliament rushed through the legislation on Wednesday night. Returning travellers who don’t comply with the new restrictions face up to six months in gaol and a fine of up to 4,000 euros.

The office of Flemish health minister Beke has conceded that compliance with the new regulations cannot be checked for everybody.  An analogy was drawn with tax evasion: “Some people are caught, others escape through the net” an official added.   

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