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Quarantine checks on returning holidaymakers under way

Flemish interior minister Bart Somers (liberal) says the police already have the powers to check whether people returning from abroad are complying with quarantine restrictions.  Secondary legislation is expected to be on the statutes by Friday, which will allow the local authorities to check quarantine compliance among returnees. But Mr Somers says the legislation is only needed to make matters more efficient.  Police already possess the necessary instruments to carry out home checks.

Flemish health minister Beke (Christian democrat) has confirmed that 160,000 Passenger Location Forms (PLFs) were filled in during the Christmas break.  In Flanders 44% of those who filled in the form have now taken a corona test.  The figure for Belgium as a whole is only 37%.

Everybody who has been abroad for over 48 hours needs to fill in the form, but tests are only required for people returning from zones designated as red by the Belgian foreign ministry. 3.1% of the 37% that submitted to a test, tested positive.  That means some 1,800 people tested positive after foreign travel.

Mr Somers says contact tracers can use the information from PLFs to decide whether doctors need to be informed that they have ascertained that people are not complying with the need to quarantine.

“The doctor can issue a quarantine order that is handed to the police.  The police can then use this document to carry out checks and impose penalties. A judicial charge sheet can be issued that can lead to up to 6 months in jail.”

Mr Somers notes that several police zones are already operating using this procedure. He adds that police can also visit homes following a complaint from a member of the public and report back to contact tracers, who can get a quarantine order issued. Quarantine orders and charge sheets have already been issued in several places.


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