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Belgians more controlled

Authorized again to travel abroad for non-essential reasons, they will also be tracked on their return and fined in case of violation of the rules.

Max HELLEFF

Max HELLEFF

Authorized again to travel abroad for non-essential reasons, they will also be tracked on their return and fined in case of violation of the rules.

From our correspondent Max Helleff (Brussels) – Since Monday, tourist trips are no longer prohibited for Belgians, even outside the borders of the European Union, but remain however discouraged. When returning from a red zone, a test is compulsory on day 1 and on day 7. A quarantine of seven days is required. But the authorities also let it be known that controls will be tightened. Testing will be better monitored.

The figures show that over the months, compliance with this instruction has continued to decrease, the second test being observed in the end by only a quarter of those concerned. Henceforth, returning travelers will therefore be traced more closely by screening services and contacted regularly to remind them of their obligations. Police checks will also be carried out and a fine of 250 euros in the event of non-compliance with the measures may be imposed.

This formalism responds to the testimonies which go back from everywhere. Belgians explain having crossed the country’s borders in recent months without ever being worried, neither by their authorities, nor by those of the host destination. Tracing would very often be inoperative, etc.

It is difficult to say to what extent such a breach of travel-related health rules affects the pandemic figures. In any case, these remain bad. On Tuesday, interfederal spokesman Yves Van Laethem considered that the pause in compulsory education during the three weeks of Easter holidays (extended) had had little effect on the spread of the virus.

Contamination therefore has other drivers. As of Wednesday, 3,100 people were still hospitalized, including 921 in intensive care – well above the threshold of 500 cases supposed to allow the total reopening of the Horeca in June.

The Belgian authorities therefore have no choice but to bet once again on vaccination. On Tuesday, the EMA, the European Medicines Agency, said the unusual thromboembolic incidents in the United States should be listed as a “very rare side effect” of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. However, Belgium will not take a position until this Friday, time to carry out additional assessments.

Johnson & Johnson is however popular: its administration in a single dose should greatly accelerate the pace of the vaccination campaign. A green light would therefore be good news for its officials to whom the “vaccine hesitation” gives gray hair. They generally estimate that 70 to 80% of people will need to have received the ad hoc doses before sufficient herd immunity is actually observed. 20% of the population is under 18 and should not receive the vaccine, which means that almost all adults should be vaccinated …

Only one compulsory vaccination

However, we are far from it. Doubts about the qualities of the drug, rejection of instructions from the authorities and minimization of the disease are all opposing arguments for not receiving the vaccine. This is more true in Wallonia and Brussels than in Flanders.

Underprivileged, less educated circles as well as religious minorities would be particularly concerned. Figures provided by a Turkish association suggest that 27% of Belgian-Turkish respondents do not want to be vaccinated and that 59% refuse the mere idea.

What may revive the debate on compulsory vaccination that had erupted this winter. Today, the only legally compulsory vaccination in Belgium – for everyone – concerns polio.


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