The question of how to keep out more contagious coronavirus variants such as the British and the South African variants of the virus is what is now preoccupying the country’s politicians. The sense of urgency has been increased after several outbreaks of the British variant have been discovered in West Flanders and Antwerp Province. Closing the borders as was the case during last year’s spring lockdown doesn’t appear to be an option as that would mean a new agreement would have to be reached at a European level.
Meanwhile, experts are calling on politicians to strongly discourage or even ban foreign travel. The biostatistician Geert Molenberghs believes that people returning to Belgium that have been abroad for less than 48 hours now should also be obliged to quarantine. Currently only those that have spent more than 48 hours in a Red Zone country have to do so.
Making quarantine and testing mandatory for all those that have spent more than 16 hours outside Belgium in a Red Zone country is reported to be one of the options that is being considered. This was suggested on Sunday by the Flemish liberal Federal Deputy Prime Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne. Mr Van Quickenborne believes that this would discourage people from spending the night abroad unnecessarily.
No decision has yet been taken and the federal authorities still have to talk to the regional governments about a stricter enforcement of the quarantine regulations. Any implications new measures might have on our obligations to our European partners will also have to be taken into consideration.