Germany and Belgium issued an increased corona warning for the provinces of North and South Holland on Wednesday. In Germany these provinces are considered ‘risk areas’, in Belgium code red applies.
Belgians are no longer allowed to visit North and South Holland from Friday afternoon. Dutch people from those provinces are also no longer allowed to travel south, the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has determined on Wednesday evening. An exception applies for essential travel, such as visiting family, a funeral or traveling for work.
Anyone who has to travel to Belgium from the two provinces has until 4 p.m. on Friday afternoon to do so. Anyone who subsequently travels to Belgium and has been in North or South Holland for more than 48 hours, whether it was an essential journey or not, must undergo a corona test and be quarantined. Groningen, North Brabant, Utrecht, Limburg, Gelderland and Flevoland will become an orange zone. Therefore, a corona test and quarantine are ‘recommended’.
Every week, Belgium determines the classification of green, orange and red zones in Europe on the basis of epidemiological data. In March, Belgium, where infections have also increased sharply in recent days, closed the border with surrounding countries. That is not going to happen yet. Anyone who has been abroad for more than 48 hours and enters Belgium must digitally fill in a Passenger Locator Form before arrival. This can be checked at the border, warns spokesman Yves Stevens of the National Crisis Center. Those who indicate that they have returned from a red zone will also receive a code by text message to carry out a corona test at a test center. “Anyone who does not can be called by a contact tracing center.”
Failure to comply with the quarantine could entail sanctions, including fines, Stevens continues. There is one known case in which the police indeed arrested a Belgian who returned to work immediately after returning from a red zone, in order to place him in quarantine. But enforcement is difficult, Stevens agrees. According to recent figures, only half of the travelers who return from a red zone actually have themselves tested.
In Germany, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI, the German RIVM) declared North and South Holland a risk area on Wednesday evening. Germany does not warn travelers against tourist travel to these provinces. Anyone who comes to Germany after a stay in North or South Holland must undergo a compulsory (but free) corona test there and may be obliged to go into quarantine.
Germany declares areas at risk if more than 50 infections per 100,000 inhabitants have been detected in the previous seven days.
Day record in the Netherlands page 9
A version of this article also appeared in nrc.next on September 17, 2020