To the Belgian government: love is not tourism


The lockdown is over for most people. We dare to get out and enjoy ourselves a bit more. But for some people there is still no end in sight. Because although most of us got permission to get back together in bubbles of fifteen, some of us still have to miss their partner. This happens as he unfortunately lives in a country where no permission is given. Sophie is one of them.  

No matter how painful distance can be, not having you in my life would be worse.


We’re allowed out, we’re allowed in restaurants. Terraces are filled with people who have been locked up the last few months. Family and friends come together again in bubbles. We feel the cosiness, the warmth. That which we have missed so much over the past few months.

And while we all seem to be thawing out of the lockdown, a large part of the population is still waiting. They are not waiting to go to the restaurant or to go to the sea for another day. Neither are they waiting for a holiday to France or Spain. They hopefully wait for the moment when the government allows them to be together again with their friend, fiancée, partner and even husband.  

No reunion 

#LoveIsNotTourism and #LoveIsEssential are a much-discussed hashtag on Twitter and other social media. Because of the coronavirus there are a lot of couples who haven’t seen each other in recent months. Including my best friends Sophie and Jasmine. 

When they traveled back from Belgium a month ago, we were all excited that they too would be reunited with their partners. But nothing could be further from the truth. A month later, both girls are still not a step closer to that reunion. While families are planning holidays to the South of France again, both girls are still waiting for permission. Strange, isn’t it?

Without perspective 

A long-distance relationship is certainly not as easy as people think it is. Although Sophie and Jasmine were both aware of this, they fell in love in Turkey. In recent years both girls travelled several times a year to the warm Bödrum to enjoy some quality time with their partners. 

A long-distance relationship is a difficult thing in itself. But one without perspective only makes it harder. 

Approved visa, no approval to travel

In those past years they both tried to get a visa for their partners. But they rejected every form. Sophie had had enough and wanted to start their lives together. That’s why she decided to marry each other in Turkey. Out of love, but also out of the hope to get him to Belgium easier. Because only then they would be able to continue building their lives together.

A year ago Sophie applied again for a visa and after six months she finally got the redeeming verdict: her husband could to come to Belgium. And then COVID – 19 took over the world. The whole situation made her husband welcome in our country, but he would have to wait for the borders to open.

Not essential 

Those borders were opened, only Turkey was not on the list of allowed countries. Which means Sophie’s still waiting for her husband to come home. Because a family reunion is not an essential move for Belgium. If your partner lives in France, Luxembourg or Norway, there is no problem. But in the case of Sophie and Jasmine, there is. 

Together with other thousands of couples, they have no right to a quick reunion with their partners. But although the hashtags are growing in popularity there is still no clear perception.  Newspapers, radios and news broadcasts find their stories. But unfortunately still without results. 

So share their story, don’t let the world forget these people. We’ve all noticed how lonely the lockdown has been for us. Imagine in their shoes? And ask yourself, do you want to share your story?

This article was written by Stephanie De Vroe from @SMOTHERHOODS

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