Visits beyond the country’s borders will again be possible from this Saturday, Interior Minister Pieter De Crem announced on Friday. These visits were no longer possible since March 20, when the borders were closed to non-essential movements.
The Minister asked the Group of Experts in charge of the Exit Strategy (GEES) for an opinion on an application of the measure to cross-border visits. He also had several meetings with his colleagues from the five neighboring countries (Netherlands, France, Germany, Luxembourg and Great Britain) on this issue. He also discussed it with his 26 European counterparts. The ministerial decree which sets out the confinement rules will be adapted and published in the Belgian Official Gazette.
From this Saturday, it is possible to visit your family and do your shopping in the neighboring countries. Contacted by us, the Cabinet of Minister Pieter De Crem told us that rules are to be observed in case of border crossing.
What are the rules?
– This measure concerns neighboring countries
You can visit your family in France, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. On site, not all the police were informed of this new measure. Result: when we call the Maubeuge police station in France, we are told that this trip is still not authorized. According to the Minister of Foreign Affairs Philippe Goffin, it will take a few days for the measure to be known to all.
– Respect the measures of the country where you are going
Before going to the neighboring country, it will be necessary to pay attention to the rules established in the countries concerned. “It goes without saying that those crossing the border must comply with the provisions in force in the country of destination “, explains the Minister of the Interior. For example, in France, only travel within a 100 km radius as the crow flies is currently allowed. If you visit your family in Strasbourg for example, there is no question of going together to Bordeaux to spend the weekend. This 100 km rule is effective until June 2 in France.
– Roadside checks always possible
Controls remain possible but the Belgian border police are warned that these movements are again authorized. Being able to prove that you are going to see your family is advisable, according to information obtained from the spokesperson for Pieter De Crem.
– No perimeter
No kilometer limit has been established.
– The rule of 4 people still in force
Although it is now possible to cross borders, the 4-person rule still applies. A household (that is, people living under the same roof and regardless of their number) can see a maximum of four other people. It will always be the same people. They may or may not be part of the same household. All of these people form a social bubble.
Aware that this rule is difficult to control, the Minister of the Interior calls on everyone’s “common sense”.
– It is a reciprocity rule
Another important point that we learned from the spokesperson for Philippe Goffin this Saturday morning. Belgium also allows Belgians residing in neighboring countries to go to our territory to visit their families. However, it is important to find out if the country of origin allows this movement outside the border.
Positive reaction from the Grand Duchy
The decision was welcomed in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. “It is a gesture appreciated on the eve of the Pentecost weekend that will allow families to meet again after weeks of separation“, stressed the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jean Assleborn.”The decision taken by the federal government should help defuse a situation that remains difficult on our border with Belgium. We will continue our dialogue with the Belgian authorities with a view to gradually lifting the restrictive measures which are still in place. The ultimate objective remains of course the removal of all obstacles to free movement“, he added.
A Belgian-Luxembourg ad hoc committee has been set up. Its mission is to identify the questions that arise in the context of the gradual reopening of the border with Belgium.
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