Word of Partners – Massimo Maesen: Updates on corona for Belgium and the EU

A new month, a new chapter in the Covid-19 saga. It now has been more than 3 months since Belgium has gone into lockdown. A lot has happened since then. In the meantime, the situation has normalised quite a bit, one important example to show we have returned to how we remember it, is the re-opening of bars and restaurants on June 8. The virus is still lingering around, but the number of contaminations keeps dropping.

The latest update is that Belgium has now reopened its border for Intra-Schengen travels (within EU, EEA, Switzerland area) since June 15.

Also important to note is that on June 11 the EU Commission recommended a partial and gradual lifting of travel restrictions to the EU (Extra-Schengen travel – from outside of the EU) after June 30, based on a common coordinated approach.

In this recommendation, a checklist was shared to help the Member States in determining how and for which countries they can start reopening their borders. The expectation is that travelers from the US, Russia and Brazil will not be able to enter the EU/Schengen area after the 1st July given that the outbreak of COVID-19 does not seem to be under control in these particular countries. If nationals from these countries do not fall under one of the allowable exemptions, it is very unlikely that they will be granted entry into the EU/Schengen area.

Lastly, we experience that the Embassies/Consulates are still not operating as they were before the Covid-19 outbreak. Only urgent applications are handled (i.e. essential travels). This leads to situations where we have obtained work and residence authorizations for employees, but they cannot travel to Belgium as they need to still collect the Visa D, which is impossible to do. Meanwhile the Belgian border authorities did confirm that individuals who hold a Visa D can travel to Belgium without issues.

We are hopeful that soon the borders will start reopening in July for certain nationals, and even for countries where the Covid-19 is still not under control, that the EU will find a common coordinated way of allowing certain highly skilled workers entry in the EU.

At Expat Management Group we have also kept busy during these strange times. We participated in an interview series organized by Fiona Mougenot at Expat Partners. We were part of a webinar on residency and citizenship organized by Bright Expats and we also were part of a coop webinar organized by ourselves and Bright Expats on Brexit, in which we spoke about the rights of UK nationals living and residing in Belgium or coming to Belgium after the transition period.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding the ability to move your employees intra or extra Schengen/EU, do not hesitate to contact us at info@expatmanagementgroup.com.

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