Authorities in Belgium plan have updated the country's international entry restrictions and plan to tighten several domestic restrictions related to coronavirus disease (COVID-19) due to a significant increase in cases in the country. Effective Oct. 30, the government in Brussels has designated certain locations with high COVID-19 activity as "red zones." All travelers entering 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 location for less than 48 hours are exempt from this measure. Specific countries and regions classified as red zones are:
- Czech Republic
- Denmark: Capital Region of Denmark, regions of Central Jutland, Southern Denmark, North Jutland
- France (Except for la Reunion and French Guyana)
- Germany:Regions of Berlin, Bremen, Stuttgart, Darmstadt, Dusseldorf, Cologne, Karlsruhe, Fribourg, Tubingen, Upper Bavaria, Lower Bavaria, Upper Palatinate, Lower Franconia, Swabia, Hamburg, Giessen, Kassel, Weser-Ems, Munster, Detmold, Arnsberg, Koblenz, Trier, Saarland, Dresden, Chemnitz
- Italy: Regions of Aosta Valley, Liguria, Campania, Umbria, Veneto, Lombardy, Sardinia, Emilia-Romagna, Tuscany, Piemonte, Abruzzo, Marche, Puglia, Molise, Basilicata, Sicily, Friuli-Venezia-Giulia, Lazio and the Autonomous Provinces of Bolzano and Trento
- Portugal (Except for the Azores and Madeira)
- San Marino
- Spain: autonomous communities of Asturias, Basque Country, Navarre, La Rioja, Aragon, Madrid, Cantabria, Castille and Leon, Castilla-La Mancha, Extremadura, Catalonia, Balearic Islands, Andalusia, Murcia, Ceuta, Melilla; provinces of Ourense, A Coruna and Pontevedra (autonomous community of Galicia); province of Valencia (autonomous community of Valencia); islands of El Hierro and Tenerife (autonomous community of the Canary Islands)
- Sweden: Stockholm, East Middle Sweden, Smaland and the islands, South Sweden
- UK: London; North West England; North-East England; Yorkshire and Humber; East Midlands; West Midlands; Wales; Southern Scotland; Eastern Scotland; West Central Scotland; Northern Ireland; East of England; South-East; Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and Bristol/Bath area, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly, Devon (South West)
- The Vatican.
Authorities have permitted travel to resume with EU and Schengen Area countries, as well as the UK, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Rwanda, South Korea Singapore, Thailand Tunisia, and Uruguay. Most nonessential travel from other countries remains prohibited, with some exceptions such as 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.
Moreover, the following domestic measures will be in place Nov. 2-Dec. 13
- A 0000-0500 curfew remains in place in Flanders; curfews in Brussels and Wallonia are 2200-0600. Citizens may not leave their homes during curfew hours, except for essential purposes such as seeking medical help or performing essential work duties.
- Non-essentials stores must close; delivery and pickup services are permitted.
- Funerals are limited to 15 people.
- Public gatherings are limited to four people.
- Contact services, such as hairdressers and cosmeticians, must close.
- Working from home remains mandatory wherever possible.
- Individuals are only allowed close contact (no social distancing required) with one person they do not live with per month; people who live alone are allowed two close contacts. Individuals may meet at their homes with other people.
- Schools remain closed until Nov. 15.
- Bars and restaurants remain closed; takeout and delivery are allowed until 2200.
- Selling alcohol after 2000 is prohibited.
- Christmas markets, winter villages, and flea markets will be closed; food markets may remain open.
Facemasks remain mandatory in 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.