Belgium Bans Non-essential Foreign Trips From Wednesday
Brussels, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 22nd Jan, 2021 ) :Belgium will ban non-essential trips out of the country from Wednesday in a bid to curb the spread of Covid-19 infections, especially highly contagious variants, a government official said.
The information confirmed reports in Belgian media that police would enforce the travel ban at land, sea and air borders to ensure travellers were making trips for essential reasons only, such as for unavoidable work commitments.
Violators would face fines.
The announcement comes a day after an EU summit by vidoconference during which European leaders decided against barring travel across the European Union's internal borders.
They instead "strongly discouraged" nonessential intra-EU trips, and warned they might toughen that line in days ahead if the worrying virus variants took hold.
The EU wants to avoid a repeat of the height of the pandemic's first wave in March last year when several member states panicked and closed off national borders unilaterally, triggering travel and economic chaos.
Even with leisure travel restricted or banned, leaders want to keep freight and workers and those with overriding family or health reasons able to move across borders.
Travel into the EU is already severely restricted.
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control has warned there is a "very high" probability of the more contagious variants spreading in the European Union.
- Deadly British variant - For most of the EU, the variants are a tiny number of overall cases, but the British variant in particular has spread quickly in Ireland and Portugal. The latter country is in the EU's passport-free Schengen area.
Belgium -- a country of 11.5 million wedged between Germany, France and the Netherlands -- is particularly worried it could be vulnerable to cross-border infections, especially during a February vacation period.
It has registered one of the highest death rates in the world during the pandemic, but restrictions closing bars and restaurants since October along with a nighttime curfew have brought infection and hospital cases down in the past two months.