Non-essential foreign travel to be banned until 1 March

The Consultative Committee that is made up of representatives of Belgium’s federal, regional and language community governments has met to discuss the measures that are in force to help curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. The most important decisions taken at Friday’s meeting were a ban on non-essential travel outside Belgium that will come into force from Wednesday 27 January and the promise that barbers, hairdressers’ and beauty salons will be allowed to reopen from Saturday 13 February providing that the coronavirus situation improves between now and then. 

All tourism and travel for leisure and pleasure will be banned for four and a half weeks. The rule will apply both to travel abroad by Belgians and people resident in Belgium and people from outside Belgium wishing to visit the country. However, travel for professional reasons will be allowed. This includes business trips, professional sportspeople that need to travel abroad to take part in competitions or matches and lorry and van drivers that need to cross the border in order to collect or deliver goods. In the case of travel for professional reasons a written declaration from the employer stating that that the trip is for professional purposes will be required. 

Travel for humanitarian reasons will also be allowed. Humanitarian reasons include crossing the border to help a person in need or to attend the funeral of a friend. Travel for family reasons is allowed too. This can be to collect or take your children to or from a former partner with whom you have joint-custody. Attending a family funeral or visiting a sick relative are also included among the "family reasons" considered justified for cross border travel. 

People that live close to the border and usually cross it to go to work or do their shopping will also be allowed to continue to do so.

Those that need to cross the border for educational reasons, for example to attend school or university will also continue to be allowed to do so. 

Non-essential travel has been banned to prevent a repeat of what happened during the Christmas holidays when tens of thousands of people went abroad to holiday or to spend the festive season with their families, often in countries with far higher infection rates than here in Belgium. 

Ten days quarantine for travellers from the UK

From Monday 25 January anyone entering Belgium from the UK, South Africa or Latin America will have to quarantine for ten days. They will also have to take a PCR test for coronavirus on the first day that they are in Belgium and on the 7th day that they are here.  

Figures permitting, barbers and hairdressers to reopen on 13 February

It has also been agreed that if the coronavirus figures improve between now and 13 February, barbers, hairdressers’ and beauty salons will be allowed to reopen from Saturday 13 February. A definitive decision on the reopening will be taken in two weeks’ time on 5 February. 

If salons are allowed to reopen it will be under very strict conditions. They will only be allowed to receive one customer at a time and customers will not be allowed to wait their turn inside the salon. If a CO2 is not installed in the salon, windows and doors must remain open. 

At least 10m² must be provided for each customer inside the salon. After each customer the salon must be ventilated thoroughly, and the implements used disinfected.

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