• EM Power

Belgium: mandatory quarantine and test after staying in red zone

The Belgian federal government and the states have tightened the travel regulations to and from Belgium. The tightening is done to avoid travellers introducing infections and to prevent the possible spread of the new variant COVID-19.

The Overlegcomité/Comité de concertation has noted that the number of infections Belgium is currently lower than in other countries. The evolution of the number of confirmed cases is also more favourable in Belgium than in other countries. In addition, there is strong evidence that a new variant of COVID-19 currently circulating in the UK is much more contagious.

In order to prevent international travel from again accelerating the spread of COVID-19, the Overlegcomité/Comité de concertation decided to strengthen the travel rules as follows:

1. Mandatory quarantine after a stay of more than 48 hours in a red zone. All stays in red zones are now considered high-risk contacts. Therefore, as of 31 December 2020, everyone (residents and non-residents) who returns to Belgium after a stay of at least 48 hours in a red zone will have to undergo quarantine. The quarantine can only be terminated after a negative PCR test on day 7 of the quarantine.

This measure is provisionally in force until 15 January. Strict exceptions are only provided for in a limited number of cases:

(1) For people performing critical functions in essential sectors, employment at the place of employment may be permitted, subject to a certificate from the employer (in accordance with the decision of the Interministeriële Conferentie Volksgezondheid of 2 December 2020);

(2) Students shall be allowed to exceptionally interrupt the quarantine in order to take an exam (only for taking the exam);

(3) For residents who resided abroad for professional reasons, an exemption from the quarantine obligation is possible until 4 January if it is a foreign professional travel attested by the employer. From 4 January 2021, the assessment of the Passenger Location Form will take into account professional movements attested by the employer.

2. PCR test upon return on day 1 and day 7. Residents returning from a red zone and staying there for more than 48 hours must undergo mandatory testing on day 1 and day 7 of the quarantine. As from Saturday 2 January 2021, people will receive a text message upon their return with which they can register at a testing centre. At Brussels Airport, the testing capacity will be further expanded to allow incoming travellers to be tested voluntarily immediately. Test capacity is being developed at Charleroi airport and Brussels South station.

3. Extra controls when returning from abroad. A special effort will be made to strengthen the control of these measures in cross-border traffic. This includes checking the Passenger Location Form and the compulsory negative test for non-residents.

Photo: Overlegcomité/Comité de concertation press conference 31 December 2020 @ Overlegcomité/Comité de concertation

These reinforced measures are in addition to the decisions of the Overlegcomité/Comité de concertation which included a stricter control of the Passenger Locator Form and, since 25 December 2020, a negative test for non-residents entering Belgium.