As of Wednesday, Belgium withdraws the cantons of Vaud and Valais from its list of regions in Europe where tourist travel is no longer authorized due to the rebound of Covid-19. Geneva is still there.
In a tweet broadcast Tuesday evening, the head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) Ignazio Cassis said he was “delighted and relieved that Belgium is adapting its travel recommendations. Valais and Vaud are going green”. The Federal Councilor adds: “I welcome this decision taken by the Belgian Celeval evaluation unit and wish all the Belgians happy holidays who have planned to go to Switzerland”.
The cantons of Vaud, Valais and Geneva appeared since Saturday on the site of the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. People returning to Belgium from these cantons had to undergo screening and quarantine. Indignant, several cantonal and federal politicians urged Bern to react. In Belgium too, some politicians have expressed their astonishment.
The Valais State Councilor in charge of the economy Christophe Darbellay, who had qualified the Belgian decision as “incomprehensible and shocking”, welcomed this change of course on Twitter. He thanked Federal Councilors Ignazio Cassis and Alain Berset for their “excellent work”.
“Erroneous geographic extension”
“We are very happy with the result obtained, in particular for tourism,” declared the State Councilor in charge of the Vaud economy for his part. “Belgium has recognized that it has made an incorrect geographic extension,” Philippe Leuba told Keystone-ATS. “Ignazio Cassis and the Department of Foreign Affairs have shown fantastic responsiveness in transmitting the Vaud and Valais figures to Belgium,” he added.
Rebecca Ruiz, Minister of Health and Philippe Leuba had indeed pointed out Sunday that over 14 days the rate of contamination was 10 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants in Valais, 23 in the canton of Vaud, almost half less than in Belgium (44). Geneva is located at 90. It is on this last figure that Brussels was based.
“This very rapid action made it possible to limit the economic effects of the Belgian announcement on Saturday. I had already had a number of hoteliers in the Vaudois Alps on the phone, in particular the syndic of Leysin, who told me that they were Belgians. were canceling, “said the minister.
The list will be officially updated on Wednesday at 4 p.m. but travelers who are on their way to these cantons can already go there, and without any obligation to quarantine or screen, specifies the belga news agency. She announced the day before that Celeval experts were to discuss a possible adaptation of the red, orange and green color coding system for travel. The current system is a source of frustration, both for travelers and for countries whose color is changing.
The FDFA had contacted Belgium before the measure entered into force. In particular, he asked what epidemiological criteria were used to put one or the other country on the risk list. The FDFA has also contacted other European authorities in order to react quickly if decisions affect the country.
Other regions concerned
In mid-July, Belgium had temporarily considered Ticino as a risk zone. Brussels classified the canton in the “orange” category. After protests from this canton to the FDFA, Brussels had backed down.
The other regions added on Saturday to the list of places where Belgium no longer allows tourist travel are Mayenne, France, as well as several parts of Bulgaria and Romania.
In Spain, Navarre is now also on the red list where it rubs shoulders with Aragon, and the regions of Barcelona and Lleida in Catalonia.
In France, several departments have joined the orange list where travelers are invited to show increased vigilance. This is the case for the Nord region (Nord-Pas de Calais), Haut-Rhin, and Haute-Savoie which therefore join the Ile de France (except the department of Seine-et-Marne which returns to green) and the Pays de la Loire which were already and remain in the orange zone.