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

 

Updated on November 3rd 2020
 

The Consultative Committee decided on October 30, 2020 to further strengthen the lockdown in the framework of the fight against COVID-19 pandemic, for a period of 6 weeks starting on Monday 2 November.

More information can be found in the Press Communication of the Prime Minister and the new Ministerial Decree of 28 October 2020 on urgent measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19 (in French | in Dutch).

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.

Please note that some regions, cities or municipalities can have extra rules in place. Check the website of your city or municipality.

  • More information on additional measures in the Walloon Region (in French)
  • More information on additional measures in the Brussels-Capital Region (in French | in Dutch).

 
1. The organization of events and other basic rules

  • More than ever, the basic rules remain essential: respect for hygiene rules, preferring to carry out activities in the open air, paying attention to vulnerable people, keeping a sufficient distance (1.5 m) and respecting the rules concerning meetings. Close contacts outside one's own household are authorized with only one person. “Close contacts” mean a contact lasting more than 15 minutes, without respect of social distancing and wearing no mouth mask.

    If a COVID-19 case is identified in a diplomatic mission, consular post or international organization, it is sufficient to thoroughly clean the area where the person works and the shared areas such as kitchen and toilets with the usual cleaning products.
     
  • Wearing a mask from the age of 12 remains compulsory in public places, shops and heavily crowded areas designated locally by the municipal authorities (for example: shopping streets, markets…) or even throughout the territory of some towns or municipalities.
     
  • Spontaneous gatherings in public areas are limited to a maximum of 4 persons, children under 12 years old not included, with respect of social distancing.
     
  • It is forbidden to enter the public space between midnight and 5:00 AM (10:00 PM and 6:00AM in the Walloon and Brussels Regions), except for essential travel that cannot be postponed, such as for urgent medical reasons, professional travel and commuting.
    Unless for an urgent medical reason, one must be able to justify the reason for being present or traveling on public roads or in public spaces. A certificate from the employer is recommended but not compulsory; any other documentary proof is acceptable, such as for example the special residence permit which demonstrates that its holder is a member of a diplomatic mission or international organization. These bodies are part of “essential services”.
     
  • Teleworking is the rule. International organizations and diplomatic missions are encouraged to apply this rule to the maximum possible extent, taking into account their essential tasks and their organizational constraints. Working in person must remain exceptional; the Protocol Directorate expressly urges everyone’s sense of responsibility to this effect.
     
  • All non-essential businesses and services are closed from November 2nd, for a period of six weeks. The Consultative Committee will proceed to an evaluation on December 1st.
     
  • Each household is allowed to host only one person at home, always the same, not counting children under 12 years of age, with respect of the social distancing rules. Receptions and banquets are forbidden. Practically, this excludes invitations with a private or social character in residences.
     
  • However, lunches or dinners provided by a professional catering company are authorized for professional meetings only and with due respect of the strict catering rules (see “business meetings” hereunder).
     
  • Preference is given to holding meetings by teleconference or videoconference. If this is not an option, professional meetings such as co-ordinations, briefings, seminars,… can be held while respecting the strict conditions as per next paragraph.
     
  • Strictly professional meetings, events and conferences are allowed; cultural or social events involving a public attendance are prohibited.
     

    These business meetings are subject to strict conditions: hygiene measures, wearing a face mask at all times and social distancing rules must be enforced.. The number of participants is limited to the available room capacity, taking social distancing rules into account. The meeting room should be ventilated and carefully disinfected before and after the meeting. If food is served – by a professional caterer only – then the catering rules are applicable : in particular, guests seated per tables of maximum 4 people and no self-service buffet.
     
    The organizer is responsible for the strict observance of hygienic measures and social distancing rules. A model risk analysis according to the type of event, as well as the appropriate measures, is available on the website www.covideventriskmodel.be.

 
2. Travel

  • Travel within the EU+ (1)  is allowed, although strongly discouraged. It is advised to follow on a daily basis on the Foreign Affair’s website the evolution of the zones on the map and the travel advice.
     
  • Travelling from Belgium to countries outside the EU+ (1) is allowed, although strongly discouraged. These countries are all given a color code.

    National rules and possible health measures in the country of destination must always be observed. Entry into the country of destination also depends on the consent of the country in question.
     
  • Travel from countries outside the EU+ (1)  to Belgium is not allowed, except for:
    - persons with an essential function or need,
    - persons from countries on the white list,
    - EU nationals and their family members

    More information can be found on the website of the FPS Foreign Affairs and the website of the Belgian Immigration Department.
     
    Travelers arriving on Belgian territory must prove their essential function or the essential nature of their travel by means of supporting documents: for example, an invitation to an international conference, participation in a ministerial meeting, taking up a position in a diplomatic mission, etc.

    It is up to the diplomatic missions, consular posts and international organisations to assess whether a trip falls within the concept of "essential travel or essential need" and to submit the necessary supporting documents.

  
3.  Health measures related to travel: PLF, quarantine, testing

  • All travelers coming to Belgium, whatever their status, their country of origin, the purpose of their trip or their transportation means, are required to complete at the earliest 48 hours prior to arrival in Belgium the PLF formPassenger 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 e-mail with a QR-code. The electronic form also includes the possibility of voluntarily completing a questionnaire containing a self-assessment of the risk of contamination. On this basis, an SMS is sent with the measures to be followed.
     
  • For travel from red zones, quarantine and testing are only requested if required in the SMS received after filling the PLF. If quarantine is requested, it can be lifted to fulfil an essential function or to meet the essential needs of the travel (if this activity cannot be postponed). The rules of social distancing and other protective measures must be respected while exercising the essential function or fulfilling the essential purpose of the travel.
     
    For everything not related to the essential function or the essential purpose, the person will have to comply with the quarantine. Example: an international official on a mission in Belgium may go to his place of meeting (unless the organization itself applies stricter measures), but is not allowed to have a walk in a public park.
     
    The family members of diplomats ant international officials 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 scheduled quarantine period, this traveler can leave the country on the scheduled date.
     
    Visitors staying in Belgium for less than 48 hours do not have to go into quarantine.

    In the case of a risky contact with an infected person, but without showing symptoms, a quarantine of 10 days must be carried out. After these 10 days of quarantine an increased vigilance of 4 days is recommended. This means that during these 4 days vigilance should be maintained for the occurrence of symptoms, hygiene and distance measures should be strictly applied and social contacts should be minimized as much as possible.
     
    If symptoms occur during quarantine, the person must of course be tested. If the test is positive, the person in question must undergo self-isolation for at least 7 days.
     
  • Travelers coming from red zones are no longer required to be tested on COVID-19, unless they show symptoms or if the traveler is invited to do a test after completing the PLF.
     
    If a test is requested, the travel details provided on the PLF form upon arrival in Belgium will trigger a text message or e-mail 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. No guarantee can, however, be given regarding the delay before receiving the results.

    Only tests carried out in the Belgian system are recognized. Visitors who have been in Belgium for less than 48 hours or who have been in a red zone abroad for less than 48 hours will not be asked to have themselves tested.
     
  • If a person has to leave Belgium for a third country which requires a negative test to enter its territory, he can ask to be tested in a laboratory, but not in the test centers which cooperate with the federal platform.
     
    As there is currently a strong demand for primary care, we also ask not to contact general practitioners for these preventive tests.
     
  • The Belgian authorities do not recommend general preventive tests for participants in (international) meetings, as a test without quarantine does not sufficiently guarantee the detection of positive cases. Preventive tests currently in use for a limited number of officials in the international institutions continue however to be accepted.
     

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. 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 remains open twice a week on Wednesdays and Fridays 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.