Information regarding COVID-19 for foreign diplomatic missions and international organisations established in Belgium

 

Updated on September 25th 2020
 

The National Security Council met on 23 September 2020 to propose a long-term vision for the approach and risk management of the COVID-19 crisis. The elements of this risk management strategy are mentioned in the Prime Minister's speech of 23 September 2020.

The Ministerial Decree of June 30th 2020 on urgent measures to limit the spread of the COVID-19 (French text, Dutch text) is still of application. The Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) of the National Crisis Center are updated regularly.

 
The following points are important for foreign diplomatic missions, consular posts and international organisations.
 

1. Organizing events and other basic rules

  • The basic rules consist key elements in the long-term vision: respect of the hygiene measures, the preference of organizing activities in open air, to protect vulnerable persons, the respect for the social distance (1m50), the limitation of the close contacts and the respect for the rules on gatherings. If a case of COVID-19 is identified in a diplomatic mission, consular post or international organization, it is sufficient to thoroughly clean the working area of the person and common areas such as the kitchen and toilets with usual cleaning products. Promoting general hygiene among the staff must be continued.
     
  • Wearing a mask from the age of 12 also is still compulsory outdoors, in high-traffic areas designated locally by the municipal authorities (for example: shopping streets, markets, etc.) or even throughout the territory of towns or municipalities.
     
  • Teleworking still remains recommended. International organizations and diplomatic missions are encouraged to apply it as much as possible, taking into account their essential tasks and their organizational constraints.
     
  • At the restaurant, at least one customer per table must leave their contact details. This data may be limited to a telephone number or an e-mail address. This allows the competent authorities to notify the customer in case he/she has potentially come into contact with another contaminated customer. Personal data is used exclusively for this purpose and will be destroyed after 14 days.
     
  • Gatherings with a private or familial character are limited to a maximum of 10 people (children under 12 years old not included).
     
  • If teleconferencing is not an option, professional meetings such as co-ordination, briefings, seminars,… can be held while respecting hygiene and social distancing measures.
     
  • Events accessible to the public are allowed, but under strict conditions. Every participant must remain seated and if older than 12 years are required to cover their mouth and nose with a face mask.
     
  • If food is served, then the catering rules are applicable : in particular, guests seated per table of maximum 10 people. The organizer is responsible for the strict observance of hygiene measures and social distance rules. Outdoor activities are encouraged as much as possible; otherwise the room must be sufficiently ventilated. A model risk analysis according to the type of event, as well as the appropriate measures, is available on the website  www.covideventriskmodel.be

    The events are subject to a capacity limit of:
  • 200 persons for indoor activities;
  • 400 persons for activities organized outdoors.

 

2. Travel

  • Travel within the EU+ is permitted, but it is advised to monitor day by day the evolution of the red and orange areas. To clarify: the orange color code refers to recommendations in the framework of travel, while travel to a red color zone is strongly discouraged.
     
  • Essential travel to and from countries outside the EU+ (1) are authorized for categories of persons with an essential function or need, as set out in the annex.

    The traveler who arrives on the territory of Belgium from a country located outside the EU+ must demonstrate his essential function by means of supporting documents: for example an invitation to an international conference, a participation at a ministerial meeting, taking up a post in a diplomatic mission, etc.

    It is up to diplomatic missions, consular posts and international organizations to assess whether a trip falls within the concept of “essential travel or need” and to provide supporting documents to this effect.

    Upon departure of member of a staff by plane to a non-EU+ country, the mission or international organization must confirm the essential nature of the trip by means of a verbal note. This note will specify the identity of the traveler and his flight number. The original is to be kept by the traveler; a copy of this note must be sent to the Protocol Direc­torate at least 4 working days in advance via the address corona-protocol@diplobel.fed.be.

    For non-essential travel, it is recommended to consult the information on the website of the FPS Foreign Affairs.
      
  • National rules and possible additional measures in the country of destination must always be observed.

 
3.
 Health measures

  • All travelers coming to Belgium, whatever their status, their country of origin, the purpose of their trip or their transportation means, must complete in advance the PLF form: Passenger Locator Form, available online. Exception: people who travel by other means than plane or boat and who stay less than 48 hours in Belgium or who have stayed less than 48 hours outside Belgium.   
     
    After sending the PLF, the traveler will receive an SMS specifying the measures possibly to be taken (quarantine, test) depending on his place of origin and the length of stay. If the planned stay is less than 48 hours, the traveler will not receive any SMS; he should neither place himself in quarantine nor be tested. However, sense of responsibility is called upon to avoid incurring unnecessary risks.
     
  • The quarantine imposed on travelers coming from countries outside the EU+ or from high-risk zones inside the EU+ (red zones), does not apply to people with an essential function within the context of activities strictly related to their function. Example: a diplomat newly arrived in Belgium is allowed to go to his place of work (unless the mission itself applies stricter measures), but is not allowed to go to the movie theater.

    The family members must respect the quarantine in all cases.

    It goes without saying that if the stay in Belgium of a traveler subject to quarantine lasts less than the foreseen period of quarantine, this traveler can leave the country on the scheduled date. Visitors who stay in Belgium for less than 48 hours should not self-quarantine.
     
  • Travelers from non-EU+ countries or from risk areas within the EU+ (red zones) must also be tested for COVID-19. The trip details indicated on the PLF form on arrival in Belgium will trigger the sending of an SMS or an e-mail in order to go to a test center. 
     
    It is also possible to take a test upon arrival at Brussels-National Airport (Zaventem). Details and conditions of this private initiative here.
    Only tests carried out in the Belgian system are recognized. Visitors who stay in Belgium for less than 48 hours will normally not be contacted.

It is generally advised to observe the officially announced measures and to demonstrate common sense. Everyone has the individual and collective responsibility to respect these principles. Each diplomatic mission or international institution may always decide for itself to take more restrictive measures for their staff or visitors.

The Protocol Directorate of the FPS Foreign Affairs reiterates that, without prejudice to their privileges and immunities, all persons enjoying such privileges and immunities have the duty to respect the laws and regulations of the receiving State, in particular the measures taken by the authorities to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Foreign diplomatic missions and international organizations may direct their questions to the Protocol Directorate’s following dedicated email address: corona-protocol@diplobel.fed.be (link sends e-mail). Please start the title of your email by writing the name of the Sending State or the International Organization.

The reception desk of the Protocol Directorate is open twice a week on Wednesday and Friday from 9 am to noon.

The Protocol asks the diplomatic missions and international organizations to only go to our reception desk if absolutely necessary and to observe the following precautions: keep a sufficient social distance and limit the number of persons in the waiting room. Wearing a mask is mandatory.

 
Measures at the airport - message of Brussels Airport Company (BAC)

The VIP services have resumed their activities. Upon arrival in the VIP building, the cooperation of the passengers will be asked to respect the following measures:

  • Keep a distance of 1.5 meters from others.
  • A mouth mask is mandatory at the airport and in the aircraft.
  • It is recommended to wash and disinfect your hands regularly.
  • Requests should be send at least 72 hours in advance instead of 48 hours. The number of visitors per delegation will be reduced to 1 instead of 6.

These recommendations will be reviewed at a later stage.

Contact: sylvie.wuiame@brusselsairport.be

 
Official notifications Protocol Directorate

 
Useful information and web links

 

[1]  As a reminder : European Union, United Kingdom, four non-EU Schengen countries (Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway) and four European micro-states (Andorra, Monaco, Saint-Marino, Holy See).

 
* The information on this page is subject to change at any time. Please take this into account.