Covid-19: What measures have been taken in Belgium ?
Many countries are affected by the Covid-19. At Cooptalis, our teams continue to support you on a daily basis to answer all your questions.
New Measures, rules evolution of the situation…we offer you a summary of the specific situation in Belgium.
Containment and rules
- Home confinement until April 20.
- Belgium has closed his borders to all non-essential travel to and from the country.
- Schools, restaurant, bars, sport centers are closed.
- The nurseries remain open but with additional precautions.
Essential outings are always allowed, to buy food and medicine, to go to the bank, gas station, post office, attend a medical appointment, help elderly relative or go to work if homeworking is not possible.
All pubic gatherings are prohibited until April 15, including all sporting and cultural events, whether indoor or outdoor regardless of their size.
Outdoor exercises, walking, jogging or biking is always “allowed”, alone, with family members living together, or with 1 friend.
Everyone is advised to keep a “reasonable distance” from each other. Public transport continues to operate in Belgium, with reduced service.
Are foreign national Repatriated to their country of origin ?
- The Belgian borders are closed (train, car) for non-essential travel.
- Travel is limited and only urgent or essential travel is possible.
- Foreign nationals are not automatically repatriated in their country of origin and must remain in quarantine.
Immigration and communal services
Are administrative services always accessible during the confinement period ?
- Yes, the services are always accessible but only by appointment and for urgent procedures., you must first contact them by telephone or email.
- The staff is also reduced in each commune, depending on the municipality, some will communicate by email; others not.
Visa and work permit
Do the competent authorities always issue Visa and work permits ?
The ministries of employment and the immigration office continues to work. The immigration office continues to issue unrestricted residence permits.
However, on a proposal from the European Commission, the heads of state and government have decided to temporarily close the external borders to non-EU nationals and non-essential travel.
This means that, for the time being and until further notice, Belgian embassies and consulate no longer accept any visa application. And no longer issue visas, unless exception (essential trip).
In most countries, visa application centers are closed.
The examination of visa applications already submitted continues. However, in the event of a positive decision, the visa will not be issued immediately, unless the applicant has an essential function or an essential need.
If the visa was requested for a short stay, the visa may be issued after normalization of the situation provided that the applicant still meets the entry conditions.
Finally, people with valid visas are strongly advised to defer any non-essential travel and to travel when the situation will be normalized.
If the period of validity of the visa issued for the postponed trip is insufficient to cover the duration of the new trip, a new visa may be requested on presentation of the following documents.
- Visa application form indicating the new dates of the trip.
- Proof of payment of the handling fee.
- Copy of the travel documents with the visa issued for the postponed rip.
- Proof of arrangement made for the new trip (ex, new dates fixed for the conference or professional meeting, new invitation etc…)
- Travel health insurance covering the duration of the new trip.
Can residence permit that expire during the confinement period be extended ?
A foreign national can apply for permission to extend their stay.
To limit travel and contacts, this request can be sent to the municipality administration of the place of residence, by e-mail.
Does an employee whose residence permit has expired still have access to local social security ?
If in order of health insurance.
The period without a valid residence permit will be frozen until the end of the confinement period.
Can an employee telecommute from a country other than the one for which they have a work permit ?
the federal public employment and labor service ‘labor inspection” confirms that a foreign national who has obtained work and residence permits has the right to telecommute from the country where he is, even if he has not yet been registered in Belgium.
Relocation and real estate property
Are removal, inventory visits always still possible and to what extent ?
visits are no longer possible.
The majority of real estate agencies have closed their doors.
Some agencies however organize virtual visits but only in the event that the property is not inhabited by a tenant.
However, moves are not allowed.
Entry and exit survey are no longer possible in the presence of all parties.
Some expert experts organize inventories but without the presence of the concerned parties.
They then send their report to all parties who have the right of reply.
Is it possible to cancel or postpone the start date of an already signed lease contract ?
there is no legal clause allowing a postponement of the start of a signed lease contract or the cancelation of a signed lease contract.
The signature irrevocably commits the parties, the lease must be executed by both parties.
If one of the parties puts an end to it, (as far as possible), it must compensate the other for the damage caused.
That is to say: give notice and pay the termination penalty.
On the other hand, an agreement and a negotiation between parties may always be found.
Delayed departure from accommodation
Is it possible to leave the accommodation beyond the legal notice period ?
there must be a written agreement with the owner and the rent must off course be paid.
Under condition that no new tenant has been found and expected to move in.
Cleaning and services companies
are they still able to guarantee their services.
at this time, most of the cleaning companies we work with are still operating as usual.
They take additional hygiene measures.
Are schools and nurseries always open?
lessons have been suspended in all schools since March 16.
Universities have set-up an e-learning system.
Some schools have left their day care centers open for parents who cannot have their children look after by people other than the grandparents, the medical staff.
The nurseries are still open.
Is it possible to enroll children for the September 2020 return to school during the confinement period?
school administrative services are closed.
Registration is no longer possible in local schools.
Some international schools provide telephone/e-mail permanence.
Virtual tours are not possible.
Can we move freely on and off the territory and under what conditions ?
YES and NO,
movements within the country is limited only to urgent or vital errands (such as going to work when teleworking is not possible, supermarket, doctor or pharmacy)
With the exception of physical sport and exercising.
Being outside is limited to being alone or with family members living in the same house.
Exceptionally, two friends can be outside together, respecting the distance of 1,5 meters between them.
Belgian borders are closed for non-essential travel.
Is quarantine compulsory on arrival in the territory ?
anyone arriving in the territory is asked to undergo voluntary quarantine at home.
Other public services
Are banks still accessible ?
the banks are always accessible but only for emergencies and by appointment.
It is always possible to open a bank account via online partners.
Online banking and ATM machines are available.
Does the local health system cover care, hospitalization for foreigners in case of Covid 19 infection ?
the local health system will cover medical care for foreigners infected with Covid-19 as long as they have a valid health insurance.