Brits make 1.8million visits to Belgium every year. COVID-19 has infected 1,486 people in Belgium where 14 deaths have been reported. The spread of coronavirus has prompted the Belgian government into action to restrict the movement of people through cancelling activities, closing social venues and suspending school lessons.
Is it safe to travel to Belgium?
Belgium imposed a lockdown at midday on Wednesday, March 18.
That measure in effect for two-and-a-half weeks until April 5.
The European Union has banned all non-essential travel to 30 countries in Europe.
That’s all the EU members, including Belgium, except for Ireland and the four non-EU countries in the Schengen open-border zone: Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland.
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The Foreign Office (FCO) said: “As countries respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, including travel and border restrictions, the FCO advises British nationals against all but essential international travel.
“Any country or area may restrict travel without notice.”
It added: “The Belgian authorities have introduced a series of measures in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
“You should comply with any additional screening measures put in place by the authorities.”
On March 12, the Belgian authorities announced a series of measures that are in effect until April 3.
These include the suspension of school lessons, and a recommendation that universities offer distance learning.
Recreational (cultural and sporting) activities are prohibited, and restaurants (including those inside hotels), nightclubs and bars are closed.
A four-team international football event in Doha due to take place from March 26 to 30 featuring the Belgian national team and those from Portugal, Croatia and Switzerland has been cancelled.
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The Government has encouraged working from home and that the use of public transport be limited to essential travel.
Shops, with the exception of food stores and pharmacies, are closed at weekends.
Belgian supermarket chain Delhaize has moved to protect its customers over 65 years of age – the age group most at risk from the coronavirus epidemic – by reserving the first hour after its shops open only for elderly shoppers.
The decision has applied since Tuesday in more than 700 of the company’s shops in Belgium as well as its Stop&Shop chain in the United States.
Are there still flights going to Belgium?
With a travel ban in place and the demand for flights low, scheduled flights to and from Belgium could be suspended or cancelled at short notice.
All flights from Brussels Airport were cancelled after the lockdown began on March 18.
The FCO is advising UK nationals against all but essential international travel.
Its advice takes effect immediately from 17 March, for an initial period of 30 days.
The FCO said: “Often there is little or no notice when countries take these steps and restrictions are also being imposed in areas where no cases of coronavirus have yet been reported. They are therefore very difficult to predict.”
“British people who decide that they still need to travel abroad should be fully aware of the increased risks of doing so.
“That includes the risk that they may not be able to get home, if travel restrictions are put in place.
“Anyone still considering travel to be realistic about the level of disruption they are willing and able to endure, and to make decisions in light of the unprecedented conditions we face.”
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