Some vacationers have already left, but others are preparing to pack their bags. The Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs strongly recommends that travelers check the current rules regarding protection against covid before their departure, as the rules may vary from country to country.
“Also during the trip, the situation can change. We must remain vigilant“, advises Marie Cherchari, spokeswoman for Foreign Affairs.
Although most sunny countries intend to preserve their tourist season and have lifted most restrictions, the Omicron BA.5 variant is rapidly spreading around the world. For Belgium alone, it is about 79.35% of new contaminations, according to the latest figures from Sciensano that do not take into account tests carried out at home, which escape statistics. The variant affects fully vaccinated people. Hospitalizations continue to rise. Fragile people, therefore, must take extreme precautions, although at the moment there is no excess mortality, nor alarmism among experts.
At its last meeting, on July 12, the emergency committee of the World Health Organization (WHO) highlighted that the cases of Covid-19 “increased 30% in the last two weeks“, essentially due to the lines BA.4, BA.5 and other Omicron sub-variants and “the lifting of social and public health measures“. So it maintains the character”extraordinaryof the pandemic that has so far claimed at least 6.3 million lives worldwide.
Information about the measures taken in each country is distributed in “travel advisories” published on the Foreign Affairs website (diplomatie.belgium.be).
Some advices :
1. Check the rules in transit and at destination
Spain, the preferred destination of Belgians, has removed all restrictions (except the use of a mask on public transport, hospitals and pharmacies). Therefore, everyone can freely spend their vacation there. In principle, because if you go to Spain by car, you have to go through France where the vaccination certificate, a negative test or recovery test based on a PCR test carried out at least eleven days before is required. Other countries continue to require the traveler to fill out documents before arriving there. This is the case in Turkey, where proof of vaccination or testing is no longer required, but an online document must be completed on the health.gov.tr site. In Morocco, the measures remain strict: health form to be filled out on the plane or on the ship before arrival, vaccination or PCR test less than 72 hours before departure mandatory, vaccination pass mandatory to access certain places or events. All this information can be found in detail on the Foreign Affairs website.
2. Update your vaccination card
At the end of June, the vaccination passes were extended for a year, and the certificates gradually expired. To do this, simply go to the CovidSafe app on your laptop and click on the “Check for new certificates” function. The update is done automatically. The other way is to go to MaSanté.be and click on “Print/Download your certificate”. For some countries, vaccination is mandatory. This is the case in the United States where there is a global entry ban for unvaccinated travelers from November 2021.
3. Check insurance
Before leaving, Foreign Affairs recommends checking the coverage promised by the insurance. This can be useful in several cases, for example, if you get sick before leaving and have to cancel an air flight or hotel nights. Health care coverage is also important because hospitalization costs can be very high, especially in the United States. “Sometimes we see that Belgian tourists go to the local embassy because the hospital costs are very high. But it’s an insurance issue“, warns Marie Cherchari.
4. Contaminated abroad?
Pay attention to the regulations in force in certain countries if you are declared positive for covid-19. Countries like Turkey or Italy impose quarantine at the expense of the interested party. The tourist may be asked to isolate himself in a specific hotel. Turkey imposes a seven-day quarantine on any infected person and any unvaccinated person who has been in contact at risk. In Italy, local health authorities determine the duration of this isolation based on your vaccination status.
5. Take your own measurements
Whether it’s required or not, most experts recommend wearing a mask whenever you’re in a crowded place, on planes and public transportation. Large gatherings are places where the coronavirus circulates very quickly. In Italy, the authorities have made it mandatory until the end of September to wear a mask on all transport, including ferries but not airplanes. In Greece, the mask is also required in certain transports and for this an FPP2 mask or double surgical mask is required. In principle, a fine of 300 euros can be imposed.