Authorities in Belgium plan to tighten several restrictions related to coronavirus disease (COVID-19) due to a significant increase in cases in the country. The following measures will be in place Oct. 19-Nov. 16
- A daily nationwide curfew will be in place 0000-0500. Citizens will not be able to leave their homes during that period, except for essential purposes such as seeking medical help or performing essential work duties.
- Working from home is mandatory wherever possible.
- Individuals are only allowed close contact (no social distancing required) with one person they do not live with per month.
- Private gatherings at home will be limited to four people in addition to members of the household. The guests must always the same individuals, and they can change every two weeks. Visitors must observe social distancing rules.
- Bars and restaurants will be closed; takeout and delivery will be possible until 2200.
- Selling alcohol after 2000 is banned.
- Funerals are limited to 40 people.
- Christmas markets, winter villages, and flea markets will be closed; food markets may remain open.
- Non-organized outdoor gatherings remain limited to four people.
Authorities have permitted travel to resume with EU and Schengen Area countries, as well as the UK, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Rwanda, South Korea, Thailand, and Uruguay. As of Oct. 16, 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. 16, the following countries and regions are designated as Red Zones for arrival into Belgium:
- Austria: provinces of Vienna, Upper Austria, Lower Austria, Salzburg, Burgenland, Vorarlberg, Tyrol
- Croatia: city of Zagreb; provinces of Split-Dalmatia, Lika-Senj, Pozega-Slavonia, Karlovac, Vukovar-Srijem, Bjelovar-Bilogora, Virovitica-Podravina, Sisak-Moslavina, Dubrovnik-Neretva, Medimurje and Krapina-Zagorje
- 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
- Germany:Regions of Berlin, Bremen
- Hungary:regions of Budapest, Pest, Western Transdanubia, Central Transdanubia, North and Northern Great Plain
- Italy: Regions of Aosta Valley, Liguria, Campania, Umbria, and the Autonomous Provinces of Bolzano and Trento
- Poland: province of Pomerania, Lesser Poland, Subcarpathia, Kuyavian-Pomeranian, Lodz, Swietokrzyskie, Podlaskie
- Portugal: Lisbon metropolitan area, Northern Portugal, Algarve
- Spain: autonomous communities of Asturias, Basque Country, Navarre, La Rioja, Aragon, Madrid, Castille and Leon, Castilla-La Mancha, Extremadura, Catalonia, Balearic Islands, Andalusia, Murcia, Ceuta, Melilla; province of Ourense (autonomous community of Galicia); islands of La Gomera en Tenerife (autonomous community of the Canary Islands)
- Sweden: Stockholm
- Switzerland: cantons of Geneva, Vaud, Jura, Fribourg, Obwalden, Schwyz, Nidwalden, Neuchâtel, Sankt-Gallen, Valais, Bern, Uri, Graubünden, Appenzell Ausserrhoden, Appenzell Innerrhoden, Zurich and Zug
- UK: London ; North West England, West Central Scotland, North-East England, Yorkshire and Humber, East Midlands, West Midlands, Wales, Southern Scotland, Eastern Scotland, Northern Ireland; Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, Essex, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, and Oxfordshire
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.
Facemasks remain mandatory in most enclosed public spaces. 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.