Since 31 December, all Belgian residents who return from a stay of 48 hours or more in a red zone must get tested on day 1 and day 7 upon their arrival and self-quarantine for a week. Last weekend, more than 4,600 of the 15,000 arriving passengers at Brussels Airport were tested at the airport. Over the past few days, Brussels Airport has opened three new test centres, in addition to the existing Test Centre, to expand the testing capacity for this purpose. Since this Sunday, a new drive-in test centre provides a convenient solution for passengers to get tested in their car. In addition, Brussels Airport is working with the federal police to improve the passenger flows and social distance during the checks of the Passenger Locator Forms (PLF) that will take place in the coming days.
One-third of passengers tested on arrival
30% of the passengers who arrived at Brussels Airport on Saturday and Sunday got tested immediately after their arrival at the airport. An important number, especially regarding the fact that passengers returning from an orange zone do not have to be tested, that non-Belgian residents are required to get a test before their departure to Belgium and that only those older than 12 years need be tested on arrival.
There are now four test sites for passengers at Brussels Airport. The airport, together with its partners Ecolog and Eurofins, and with the support of the Flemish Red Cross, opened two new test centres last Saturday, less than 48 hours after the government’s announcement, in addition to the Test Centre which has been available at departure level since mid-September and is more focused on departing passengers. For arriving passengers, there is now one Test Centre in the Arrivals Hall (level 2), and one at the bus station (level 0). A fourth option is the drive-in Test Centre (at car park P4), which has been operational since Sunday and where returning passengers can get tested in their car, after picking up their vehicle at one of the car parks at Brussels Airport.
All these testing facilities are open every day from 03:30 to midnight. Signage has been put in place and additional staff have been deployed to inform passengers and distribute them over the various facilities depending on the passenger flows. Additional administrative and nursing staff have strengthened the existing teams to welcome passengers and carry out the tests.
The testing capacity at Brussels Airport has increased from 125 tests per hour to 500 tests per hour in a few days. It is strongly recommended to register online in advance for a test to reduce waiting time at the airport.
PLF checks by the federal police
During this weekend, as decided by the federal government, numerous checks were organised by the federal police to verify that arriving passengers had correctly filled in their Passenger Locator Form (PLF), which is mandatory for anyone travelling to our country. These checks went well throughout the weekend except at one point on Sunday evening, when the federal police intensified the checks, causing queues at the checkpoint. These queues lasted a good half hour and were in a large area of the airport which should have allowed the necessary social distancing.
The Federal Ombudsman of Brussels Airport, Philippe Touwaide, sent a new letter on Monday to the director of the Regulation Service of Brussels Airport to draw his attention to “the non-compliance with health rules” during the last weekend.
Brussels Airport is working with the federal police to improve the management of passenger flows and social distancing during the PLF checks that will still take place in the coming days.