Police to check that hikers don’t cross the border when walking at the Kalmthoutse Heide

Those planning a bracing walk at the Kalmthoutse Heide, a large area of heathland north of Antwerp, should be aware that the police plan to carry out checks to ensure that hikers and cyclists don’t cross the border into The Netherlands. The Kalmthoutse Heide is a 60km² area of natural beauty that is partly in Antwerp Province and partly in the Dutch Province of North Brabant. From tomorrow (Wednesday 27 January) until Monday 1 March all foreign travel for recreative or leisure purposes is banned. 

Although the police will concentrate their efforts on ensuring that no one leaves (or enters) the country to go on holiday, checks will also be carried out on an ad hoc basis at various locations including the Kalmthoutse Heide to ensure that the travel restrictions are being observed.  

The ban on non-essential travel applies to walkers and cyclists as much as it does to anyone else. The daily Gazet Van Antwerpen writes that it is still unclear whether the police will systematically check walkers and cyclists at the border.

The Grens Local Police Service’s Spokesman Patrick De Smedt told the paper that "We are still waiting for the exact wording of the ministerial decree before we look at where our checks will be concentrated. The authorities want to above all focus on tourist travel. So, we will have to ensure that people don’t cross the border by car for a tourist trip”.  

Nevertheless, hikers and cyclists should be careful not to cross the border when they are out in the Kalmthoutse Heide Border Park. The border crossings are clearly marked.

 "We are going to carry out ad hoc checks and if people are caught making non-essential journeys, they risk a fine. We assume that by now people are familiar with the laws they have to follow. As the police we will ensure that the rules are enforced”, Mr De Smedt added. 

Top stories