Authorities in Belgium have extended measures introduced to combat the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) until March 1 amid consistently high rates of infection. A 0000-0500 curfew remains in place in Flanders; curfews in Brussels and Wallonia are 2200-0600. Residents may not leave their homes during curfew hours, except for essential purposes such as seeking medical help or performing essential work duties. Additionally, the following domestic restrictions remain in place:
Some nonessential stores, including hairdressers, beauticians, and other close contact services are closed.
Adults may only shop individually or in the company of dependents.
Catering establishments are closed except for deliveries and takeaways, which are permitted until 2200.
Selling alcohol after 2000 is prohibited.
Facemasks must be worn on public transport and in enclosed spaces and busy outdoor areas as defined by local authorities.
Public gatherings are limited to four people.
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; each household may host one close contact per month; people who live alone are allowed two close contacts.
Travel is permitted with EU and Schengen Area countries, as well as Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Rwanda, South Korea, Singapore, and Thailand, though in many cases travel is strongly discouraged. Nonessential travel from all other locations is prohibited. All arrivals staying in Belgium for more than 48 hours are required to fill in a Passenger Locator Form within 48 hours before arrival.
In addition, the government has designated certain locations with high COVID-19 activity as "red zones." As of Jan. 13, all countries are designated red zones except for Australia, New Zealand, Rwanda, Singapore, and South Korea, Thailand, and limited areas within Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Norway, and Spain. Travel with red zone countries is either strongly discouraged or prohibited. All individuals arriving in Belgium having spent 48 hours or more in a red zone must self-isolate on arrival and may only leave self-isolation following a negative result for a COVID-19 test taken no less than seven days after arrival. Additionally, non-residents having spent 48 hours in a red zone must present proof of a negative COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test taken within 72 hours prior to arrival before entering the country, while residents may instead take a test on arrival; exceptions apply to crossborder commuters.
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.
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.
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