Authorities in Belgium to tighten COVID-19-related restrictions from Oct. 9. Significant business and travel disruptions remain.
Alert Begins 07 Oct 2020 03:03 PM UTC
Alert Expires 30 Oct 2020 11:59 PM UTC
- Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
- Location(s): Nationwide
- Time Frame: Indefinite
- Impact: Significant business and travel disruptions
Authorities in Belgium plan to tighten a number of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions due to an increase in cases in the country. Effective Oct. 9, individuals are only allowed close contact (no social distancing required) with up to three people they do not live with per month. Private gatherings at home will be limited to four people in addition to members of the household. Moreover, non-organized outdoor gatherings will be limited to four people. Cafes and bars nationwide will be required to close at 2300 daily; a limit of four persons per table is set for these establishments - exceptions are made for persons that live in the same household. These measures will last until Nov. 9 at least.
Authorities have permitted travel to resume with EU and Schengen Area countries, as well as the UK, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, Thailand, and Uruguay. As of Oct. 6, Belgium is restricting travel with countries with high COVID-19 activity, designated "Red Zones" by authorities. 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, the self-quarantine period is extended by another seven days. Individuals who stay in a Red Zone for less than 48 hours are exempt from this measure. As of Oct. 6, the following countries and regions are designated as Red Zones for arrival into Belgium:
- Austria: Provinces of Vienna, Tyrol, and Vorarlberg
- Croatia: provinces of Split-Dalmatia, Lika-Senj, Pozega-Slavonia, Karlovac
- Czech Republic
- 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: regions of Budapest, Pest, Western Transdanubia, Central Transdanubia
- Netherlands: Provinces of Utrecht, South-Holland, North-Holland, North-Brabant, Flevoland, Gelderland, Groningen
- Portugal: Lisbon Metropolitan Area
- Slovakia: Region of Bratislava
- Spain: Except the autonomous community of Valencia, and the islands of Tenerife, El Hierro, La Gomera, and La Palma
- Switzerland: Cantons of Vaud, and Geneva
- UK: North West England, West Central Scotland, North-East England, Yorkshire and Humber, West Midlands, West Wales and the Valleys, Southern Scotland, Northern Ireland
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 of 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.
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. Organized events of up to 200 people are permitted indoors and up to 400 outdoors. Facemasks are no longer required in crowded outdoor public spaces unless specifically directed by local authorities; however, facemasks remain mandatory in most enclosed public spaces. 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.