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Coronavirus

EU executive criticizes Belgium for extending COVID-19 travel ban

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The European Union’s executive criticized Belgium on Monday for extending its blanket ban on non-essential travel to and from the country despite the European Commission asking it to ease restrictions on movement.

Highlighting how the bloc’s 27 countries struggle to stick to a unified line in battling the COVID-19 pandemic, Germany has equally ignored a call from the Commission in late February to roll back its latest curbs on travel and borders.

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In laying out plans for gradually restarting more social and public activities from May, Prime Minister Alexander de Croo said last Friday that Belgium’s ban on foreign travel would be extended by more than two weeks to Apr. 18.

“We were rather surprised by the Belgian authorities’ announcement,” said a spokesman for the Commission, which - as most EU institutions - sits in the Belgian capital Brussels.

“We have asked Belgium to replace that with more targeted measures,” they said, referring to strict testing and quarantine requirements to discourage - but not ban - foreign trips.

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The Commission has said excessive limitations imposed recently to contain the spread of new variants of the coronavirus hurt the flow of goods, services and people in the bloc’s cherished single market, already going through a record recession triggered by the pandemic.

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