Severity: Critical Alert
Exit/Entry: Authorities in Belgium maintain COVID-19-related measures as of Sept. 8 while regularly updating the list of countries approved for travel.
Alert Begins 08 Sep 2020 10:19 AM UTC
Alert Expires 22 Sep 2020 11:59 PM UTC
- Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
- Location(s): Nationwide (map)
- Time Frame: Indefinite
- Impact: Significant business and travel disruptions
Authorities in Belgium are maintaining measures imposed to stem the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the current level as of Sept. 8, while regularly updating the list of countries with which travel is approved. The government had previously lifted entry restrictions on travelers from most EU and Schengen Area countries, as well as the UK. However, officials have designated several countries and regions within this bloc as "Red Zones" due to high COVID-19 activity; nonessential travel with these locations is not permitted. All arrivals from these locations must take a COVID-19 test on arrival and self-isolate for 14 days. As of Sept. 7, the following countries and regions are designated as Red Zones:
- Croatia: Split-Dalmatia, Brod-Posavina, Zadar, and Sibenik-Knin provinces
- France: Paris and the departments of Hauts-de-Seine, Val-d'Oise, Loiret, Gironde, Rhone, Var, Seine-Saint-Denis, Val-de-Marne, Sarthe, Herault, Alpes-Maritimes, Bouches-du-Rhone, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, and Mayotte
- Spain (excluding Tenerife)
Nonessential travel from other countries remains prohibited, and many arrivals will also require testing and 14 days of self-isolation; exceptions include diplomats, health workers, and cargo transport staff. National authorities require all international arrivals to fill out a Passenger Locator Form 48 hours before arrival. Individuals staying in Belgium for less than 48 hours and Belgian residents traveling abroad for less than 48 hours are not required to fill out the form.
Authorities previously relaxed some domestic restrictions as of Sept. 1. Indoor gatherings, including cultural events, sporting events, and religious ceremonies, may be attended by up to 200 persons, while outdoor gatherings may be attended by up to 400 persons. Wearing a facemask at such gatherings is compulsory. Private social gatherings attended by persons from different households are limited to five people. Groups of up to 10 people may gather to exercise outdoors, provided they maintain 1.5 meters (5 feet) social distance.
Numerous COVID-19 measures remain in place. Facemasks are compulsory in all public spaces, including public transport, shopping centers, main shopping streets, houses of worship, cultural venues, and entertainment venues. Persons under the age of 12, those engaged in strenuous physical activity, and those who cannot wear facemasks for medical reasons are exempt from the requirement. Nightclubs, discos, and large festivals are prohibited from operating. Additionally, all cultural and festive events are prohibited in the worst-affected municipalities. Most nonessential businesses, including professional services, salons, and retailers, have reopened, provided they comply with strict hygiene and social-distancing requirements.
Authorities could reimpose, extend, further ease, or otherwise amend any restrictions with little-to-no notice depending on disease activity over the coming weeks.
Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm all travel arrangements. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions. Reconsider and reconfirm nonemergency health appointments. Plan for queues and delays at available shopping centers.
Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.