A possible extension of the curfew in Flanders (currently in force from midnight to 5am) to bring it into line with the 10pm to 6am curfew that is in force in Brussels and Wallonia was one measure that some believed might have been decided on at Friday afternoon’s meeting. However, this was not the case. Despite calls from a number of experts to bring the start of the curfew in Flanders forward to 10pm the Flemish Government is opposed to this and no changes will be made.
No negative test, no entry
In future foreign residents coming to Belgium will have to provide proof of a negative coronavirus test before they are allowed to enter the country. A number of experts had called for this measure to be introduced including the virologist Marc Van Ranst in an interview last Sunday with VRT News’ topical discussion programme ‘De zevende dag’.
A number of other countries, including some here in Europe, already oblige foreign visitors to provide a negative coronavirus test in order to gain entry to the country.
Quarantine for those returning from Red Zone areas
Anyone be they Belgian or a foreign national that arrives in Belgium from a Red Zone area (most of Europe is currently coloured red on the coronavirus infection map) will be obliged to quarantine for 7 days.
Previously the obligation to quarantine depended on the answers given on the form everyone returning to Belgium is obliged to fill in before (re)entering the country. If the answers given didn’t point to the person in question have run a risk of infections, then he or she was not obliged to quarantine. The criteria will now be tightened and only if the risk is deemed to be exceptionally low will they not be obliged to quarantine.
This measure had already been announced but was also discussed and agreed upon at Friday afternoon’s meeting. At the press conference the Federal Prime Minister Alexander De Croo reminded us that foreign travel is strongly disadvised. Anyone that has been outside the country for more than 48 hours will be considered to be a high-risk contact.
Stricter checks on cross-border shoppers
Since non-essential shops were forced to close in Germany and The Netherlands earlier this week there have been concerns that high streets and shopping malls in areas close to be border could be inundated with a flood of cross-border Christmas shoppers.
To address these concerns the Consultative Committee has agreed a number of measures to control to flow of shoppers from across the border and ensure that our shopping centres and shopping streets remain as corona safe as possible.
Stricter enforcement of rules on telework
There will be stricter checks to ensure that companies are upholding the rules obliging all those that can to work from home. Companies failing to do so will face stiff fines.
Skiing banned throughout the winter
There is also bad news for those wishing to go skiing in Belgium this winter. Even if there is enough snow skiing will be banned.
"It's in our own hands"
The Federal Prime Minister Alexander De Croo (Flemish liberal) told the press conference that we all have a part to play in bringing the figures downs.
Although we have made great strides during the past month and a half the figures remain to high. He added that if we continue to uphold the rules we can prevent a third wave of the virus. We must continue to limit our contacts.
The Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke (Flemish socialist) called on people in Belgium to stick to the rules limitting social contact during the festive season.