Entry/Exit: Authorities in Belgium announce easing of COVID-19-related restrictions on Sept. 23. Significant business and travel disruptions remain.
Alert Begins 23 Sep 2020 06:37 PM UTC
Alert Expires 07 Oct 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 announced a number of changes to restrictions imposed to limit the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on Sept. 23, despite an increase in cases in the country. The mandatory quarantine period for individuals displaying symptoms of COVID-19, or for individuals who have had close contact with a person who has tested positive for the virus, is reduced from 14 days to seven days. Additionally, as of Oct. 1, protective face coverings will no longer be required in crowded outdoor public spaces unless specifically directed by local authorities; however, productive face masks remain mandatory in most enclosed public spaces.
As of Sept. 25, Belgium is no longer prohibiting travel with countries with high COVID-19 activity, designated "Red Zones" by authorities, though they are still strongly advising against travel to such areas. This only applies to countries with which Belgian authorities have previously permitted travel to resume; as of Sept. 25 this includes EU and Schengen Area countries, the UK, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Rwanda, South Korea, Thailand, and Uruguay. All arrivals from Red Zones must take a COVID-19 test on arrival and self-quarantine for seven days before taking a second test on the fifth day of self-quarantine; if this test returns positive then the self-quarantine period is extended by another seven days. The self-quarantine period remains at 14 days for arrivals before Sept. 25. Individuals who stay in a Red Zone for less than 48 hours are exempt from this measure. As of 1600 Sept. 25, the following countries and regions are designated as Red Zones:
- Austria: Provinces of Vienna, Tyrol, and Vorarlberg
- Croatia: Split-Dalmatia, Brod-Posavina, Zadar, Virovitica-Podravina, Lika-Senj, Dubrovnik-Neretva, and Pozega-Slavonia
- Czech Republic: Regions of Prague, Central Bohemia, Southwest, Northeast, Southeast, Northwest, Central Moravia, and Moravia-Silesia
- Denmark: Capital region of Denmark
- France: Paris and the departments of Ain, Alpes-Maritimes, Aveyron, Bouches-du-Rhone, Corse-du-Sud, Cote-d'Or, Essonne, Gard Gers, Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Gironde, Haute-Corse, Haute-Garonne, Hauts-de-Seine, Herault, Ille-et-Vilaine, Indre-et-Loire, Isere, Loire, Loiret, Maine-et-Loire, Martinique, Nord, Pas-de-Calais, Puy-de-Dome, Pyrenees-Atlantiques, Pyrenees-Orientales, Reunion, Rhone, Sarthe, Seine-et-Marne, Seine-Maritime, Seine-Saint-Denis, Tarn-et-Garonne, Val-d'Oise, Val-de-Marne, Var, Vaucluse, Vienne, Yvelines, Ariege, Calvados, Doubs, Eure, Eure-et-Loir, Haute-Loire, landes, Loire-Atlantique, Lot-et-Garonne, Marne, Saone-et-Loire, Somme, Tarn
- Hungary: Budapest, and the regions of Transdanubia and Southern Great Plain
- Netherlands: Provinces of South-Holland, North-Holland, and Utrecht
- Portugal: Lisbon Metropolitan area and Centro Region
- Spain: Except the islands of Tenerife, El Hierro, La Gomera, and La Palma
- Switzerland: Cantons of Freiburg, Vaud, and Geneva
- UK: North West England and West Central Scotland
Most nonessential travel from other countries remains prohibited with some exceptions including diplomats, health workers, and cargo transport staff; all such arrivals will require testing and seven days self-quarantine. 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.
Most other COVID-19 measures remain the same following the Sept. 23 announcement. Individuals are allowed close contact with up to five people they do not live with per month, though this number is subject to change at short notice depending on the infection rate in the country. There are no limits on the number of people individuals can meet over the course of a month provided they remain at least 1.5 meters apart, though public gatherings of over 10 people remain prohibited. Organized events of up to 200 people are permitted indoors and up to 400 outdoors. Most nonessential businesses and facilities are permitted to operate provided they adhere to strict hygiene and social distancing measures.
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.