- Andorra, Belgium and The Bahamas removed from list of travel corridors for England following data showing a significant increase in confirmed cases
- Brunei and Malaysia added to list of travel corridors for England having been assessed by the Joint Biosecurity Centre as posing a lower infection risk
- travellers urged to check the latest advice from the FCO before travelling and will be required to fill in a passenger locator form before returning home
Data from the Joint Biosecurity Centre and Public Health England has indicated a significant change in both the level and pace of confirmed cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) in all 3 destinations, leading to ministers removing these from the current list of travel corridors.
Andorra, Belgium and The Bahamas to be removed from travel …
Belgium, officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a country in Western Europe. It is bordered by the Netherlands to the north, Germany to the east, Luxembourg to the southeast, France to the southwest, and the North Sea to the northwest. It covers an area of 30,689 km2 (11,849 sq mi) and has a population of more than 11.5 million, making it the 22nd most densely populated country in the world and the 6th most densely populated country in Europe, with a density of 376 per square kilometre (970/sq mi). The capital and largest city is Brussels; other major cities are Antwerp, Ghent, Charleroi, Liège, Bruges, Namur and Leuven.
Legally, Belgium is a sovereign state and a federal constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system. Its institutional organization is complex and is structured on both regional and linguistic grounds. It is divided into three highly autonomous regions: the Flemish Region in the north, Wallonia in the south, and the Brussels-Capital Region. Brussels is the smallest and most densely populated region, as well as the richest region in terms of GDP per capita.
Belgium is home to two main linguistic groups or communities: the Dutch-speaking Flemish Community, which constitutes about 60 percent of the population, and the French-speaking Community, which comprises about 40 percent of all Belgians. A small German-speaking Community, numbering around one percent, exists in the East Cantons. The Brussels-Capital Region is officially bilingual (French and Dutch), although French is the dominant language. Belgium’s linguistic diversity and related political conflicts are reflected in its political history and complex system of governance, made up of six different governments.
Historically, Belgium is part of an area known as the Low Countries, a somewhat larger region than the current Benelux group of states that also included parts of northern France and western Germany. Its modern name is derived from the Latin word Belgium, used in Julius Caesar’s “Gallic War”, to describe the region in the period around 55 BCE. From the end of the Middle Ages until the 17th century, the area of Belgium was a prosperous and cosmopolitan center of commerce and culture. Between the 16th and early 19th centuries, Belgium served as the battleground between many European powers, earning the moniker the “Battlefield of Europe”, a reputation strengthened by both world wars. The country emerged in 1830 following the Belgian Revolution, when it seceded from the Netherlands.
Belgium participated in the Industrial Revolution and, during the course of the 20th century, possessed a number of colonies in Africa. The second half of the 20th century was marked by rising tensions between the Dutch-speaking and the French-speaking citizens fueled by differences in language and culture and the unequal economic development of Flanders and Wallonia. This continuing antagonism has led to several far-reaching reforms, resulting in a transition from a unitary to a federal arrangement during the period from 1970 to 1993. Despite the reforms, tensions between the groups have remained, if not increased; there is significant separatism particularly among the Flemish; controversial language laws exist such as the municipalities with language facilities; and the formation of a coalition government took 18 months following the June 2010 federal election, a world record. Unemployment in Wallonia is more than double that of Flanders, which boomed after the war.Belgium is one of the six founding countries of the European Union and its capital, Brussels, hosts the official seats of the European Commission, the Council of the European Union, and the European Council, as well as one of two seats of the European Parliament (the other being Strasbourg). Belgium is also a founding member of the Eurozone, NATO, OECD, and WTO, and a part of the trilateral Benelux Union and the Schengen Area. Brussels hosts the headquarters of many major international organizations such as NATO.Belgium is a developed country, with an advanced high-income economy. It has very high standards of living, quality of life, healthcare, education, and is categorized as “very high” in the Human Development Index. It also ranks as one of the safest or most peaceful countries in the world.
There has been a consistent increase in COVID-19 cases per 100,000 of the population in Belgium since the middle of July, with a 4-fold increase in total cases over this time period. In Andorra, new cases per week have increased 5-fold over the same time period, while in The Bahamas the weekly case rate peaked at 78.6 last week, up from 3.1 in mid-July.
Brunei and Malaysia have been added to the government’s travel corridor list following a decrease in confirmed cases of coronavirus. From 4am on Tuesday 11 August 2020, passengers arriving to England from these destinations will no longer need to self-isolate, so long as they haven’t been in or transited through any other non-exempt countries in the 14 days preceding their arrival.
Andorra, Belgium and The Bahamas to be removed from travel …
At the same time, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has also updated its travel advice to advise against all but essential travel to Andorra, Belgium and The Bahamas. Brunei and Malaysia are already exempt from the FCO’s global advisory against non-essential travel.
The government has made consistently clear it will take decisive action if necessary to contain the virus, including removing countries from the travel corridors list rapidly if the public health risk of people returning from a particular country without self-isolating becomes too high.
People currently in Andorra, Belgium and The Bahamas are encouraged to follow the local rules and check the FCO travel advice pages on GOV.UK for further information. The government is urging employers to be understanding of those returning from these destinations who now will need to self-isolate.
COVID-19 has profoundly changed the nature of international travel. Travellers should always check the latest advice from the FCO, given the potential for changing coronavirus infection rates to affect both the advice about travelling to other countries and rules about self-isolation on return. All travellers, including those from exempt destinations, will still be required to show a complete passenger locator form on arrival into the UK unless they fall into a small group of exemptions.