Federal Health Minister says that people that aren’t fully immunised shouldn’t travel to Portugal

The Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke (Flemish socialist) has advised people that have not yet been fully immunised against coronavirus not to travel to Portugal. Mr Vandenbroucke and his colleagues from the regions and language communities have yet to reach an agreement on eventual changes to the rules for travel to Portugal, a country where the prevalence of the Delta variant has seen coronavirus infection rates rise considerably recently. 

Nevertheless, the Federal Health Minister’s message is clear "Think twice before you go to Portugal. If you have not yet been fully immunised, don’t travel there.

"This is some good advice that I am giving to everyone that cares about their own health and about the health of others. New lockdowns have been announced there. It is not a country that I would travel to”.

Mr Vandenbroucke’s words are words of advice and nothing more. For the time being at least no new rules have been announced for people travelling to Portugal. Mr Vandenbroucke had proposed stricter measures for those travelling to and returning from Portugal however, his colleagues in the regional and language community governments were not in agreement. 

Mandatory testing

Portugal is still an amber zone on the European coronavirus infection map. This means that travellers returning from there are not obliged to take a coronavirus test or to quarantine. However, there has been a large rise in the number of infections in Portugal recently and on Thursday the Portuguese authorities announced a curfew in 45 municipalities. The fear is that Belgians returning from Portugal will come back infected with the Delta variant and push up the infection rate here.

Under Mr Vandenbroucke’s proposals those returning from Portugal would be tested twice for coronavirus. The first time would be on the day of their return with a second test following a week later. Unlike those returning from red zone countries they would not be obliged to quarantine between their two tests. The measures would not apply to people that had been fully immunised.

Mr Vandenbroucke’s proposals were discussed on Thursday. However, the regional and language community governments didn’t agree with the Federal Health Minister. Instead, they want measures to be taken at a European level. A final decision will be taken at a meeting of the Consultative Committee that will be held digitally. It is still unclear when exactly this will take place. 

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