English-speaking visitors to Belgium may have arrived under a misunderstood set of coronavirus-related travel rules, according to national newspaper The Brussels Times.
“According to the English version of the official info-coronavirus.be website,” journalists Maïthé Chini and Jules Johnston reported on January 4th, “travelers must complete the form ‘within 48 hours of [their] arrival in Belgium.'” Trick is, that information is not correct. In its original French, Dutch and German — the country’s three official languages — the government states Passenger Locator Forms (PLF) must be completed before people arrive — not after.
Fortunately, the Belgian government corrected the mistake not long after The Brussels Times called to request comment. “It was a wrong translation of the text and it has now been corrected,” Yves Stevens, spokesperson for the country’s coronavirus crisis center, told the paper. It’s unclear, however, how many travelers entered the country before the correction was provided. Fines for those who do not complete the forms as instructed are €250 per person.
According to Reuters, Belgium has seen 650,011 covid-19 infections and 19,701 coronavirus-related deaths since the start of the global pandemic back in March. Travelers and residents are encouraged to use Coronalert, a contact tracing app available in English, French, Dutch and German for iPhone and Android. According to the frequently asked questions page of the Coronalert website, “The language of the app is automatically matched to the default language configured in your smartphone’s language settings. If your phone is set up in another language than these four, Coronalert will by default be installed in English.”