Today, 22 January 2021, the Belgian authorities discussed the coronavirus situation and decided, despite a stabilising health situation in Belgium, to temporarily ban recreational and tourist travel to and from Belgium. The aim of these measures are to prevent or at least limit the importation of the more virulent ‘mutant’ strains of COVID emerging in some parts of the world.
The announced limitations on international travel are:
A. Ban on non-essential travel
Travel for recreational or tourist purposes to and from Belgium is prohibited from Wednesday 27 January to Monday 1 March 2021. This ban will be controlled for road, air, sea and rail traffic.
Any persons traveling to and from Belgium must be in possession of a declaration of honour relating to the nature of their journey. A model form will be provided by the Minister of the Interior. The declaration of honour must be linked to the passenger's Passenger Location Form and be supported by any necessary documentation.
During the ban, only essential travel is allowed. The following categories may fall under essential travel:
A compelling family reason such as Family reunion; Visits to a spouse or partner who does not live under the same roof, as long as plausible evidence of a stable and lasting relationship can be provided; or Travel related to co-parenting, civil and religious weddings, funerals or cremations (of allies or relatives).
Humanitarian reasons such as Travel for medical reasons and the pursuit of medical treatment; Assistance to an older, minor, disabled or vulnerable person; or Visiting relatives in palliative care.
For studying such as Travel for pupils, students and interns participating in an exchange as part of their studies; or Researchers with a hosting contract.
Border workers were Travel related to daily life for activities which are also authorized in Belgium; or Professional reason for carrying out a professional activity
In addition, Animal care, travel due to legal obligations (if this cannot be accomplished digitally), and urgent vehicle safety repairs are also considered essential.
B. Travellers from UK, South Africa and South America
From Monday 25 January, all travellers entering Belgium from the United Kingdom, South Africa or South America will be required to respect a ten-day quarantine and carry out a PCR test on the first and the seventh day of their quarantine.
C. Double entry test
The authorities would also like all non-residents traveling to Belgium to be tested again on arrival in Belgium, in addition to the mandatory negative test prior to their departure to the country. This could be a PCR test or a rapid antigen test.
Anybody who tests positive for COVID-19 will now have to self-isolate for ten days.
After high-risk contact or travel to Belgium, the quarantine period remains at ten days. This period may be reduced to a minimum of seven days on condition of presenting a negative test that has been carried out no earlier than seven days after exposure to COVID.
Prospects for getting your hair cut
Due to the current state of the epidemic, it is not yet recommended to reopen the non-medical contact professions, such as beauty salons, non-medical pedicure stores, nail salons, massage parlours, hairdressers, barbers, and tattoo salons, however reopening from 13 February may be considered provided that the epidemiological situation continues to develop positively. The situation will be reassessed on 5 February.
In addition, the reopening of non-medical contact professions will only be possible in strict compliance with existing protocols, supplemented by a series of additional measures, such as the obligation to open by appointment only, the compulsory registration of appointments, the obligation for customers to wait outside and the obligation to leave doors and windows open at all times.
The press release following the Concertation Committee (in French) can be found here.