Stricter checks on returning holidaymakers

Belgium’s consultative committee grouping the country’s multifarious governments that has the final say on corona measures met today to discuss the situation against the backdrop of rising infection figures.

Stricter checks on compliance with quarantine and testing requirements are being launched for people returning from red zones abroad.  

The prime minister also promised stricter procedures for people returning home from EU and Schengen states where dangerous variants are in circulation whatever the colour code the country has been given.

Travellers will need to take a PCR test on Days 1 and 7 after their return.  People will also have to quarantine unless a traveller has taken a PCR test 72 hours before entering Belgium.

Checks on the Passenger Locator Form, the PLF, are being stepped up at borders, especially at airports and international train stations.

People who are fully vaccinated and return from a red zone country are not legally required to get a test or to quarantine.

Use of the Covid Safe Ticket is being introduced for all events with 1,500 or more participants.  The ticket or CST is the Belgian app implementing the EU Digital Covid Certificate.  The ticket will state whether you are fully vaccinated, have antibodies as a result of an infection during the past six months or took a recent test.

The CST will be used to organise mass events and pilot projects safely. Face coverings will not be required at such events.  The app will operate as anonymously as possible.  Anybody carrying out checks will see either red or green on the screen and not receive any further details.

The CST rule applies to outdoor events starting 13 August, to indoor events from 1 September. This means that if an organiser enforces use of the CST indoor events, e.g. concerts, can be organised without any social distancing or face covering requirements starting 1 September.

The CST system is not mandatory.  Organisers can also choose to stick with face coverings and require social distancing of 1.5m.

The prime minister told a news conference: “We are able and we must relax corona measures step by step.  Mr De Croo pointed to the worrying situation in neighbouring countries where far-reaching relaxations have had to be reversed.

“The last thing we want is for the rules to be tightened up once again.  This will take us into a stop-start scenario.  We must introduce relaxations with patience.  It’s the only sound approach.”

Mr De Croo also provided the latest figures on vaccinations: eight out of ten adults in Belgium have received at least one shot.  Three out of four people with underlying health issues and nine out of ten over 65s are fully vaccinated.  He said that as a result fewer people were being hospitalised despite the increase in cases.

Earlier Belgian health minister Vandenbroucke (Flemish socialist) criticised the French approach and said producing a pass will not be required in order to access bars, restaurants or family gatherings in Belgium.  

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