Belgium in Brief: 4 Week Lockdown Prevention Plan

Belgium in Brief: 4 Week Lockdown Prevention Plan
Credit: Belga/Pexels

'Yesterday was a big day for news in Belgium' has almost become the leading line for this newsletter, but it's still true.

Following on from the rapid and “worrying” increase in coronavirus infections in the country, and to prevent a full-blown second wave, Belgium has increased measures again.

The biggest news was the shrinking of social groups from a fluid 15 to a fixed 5, from 29 July for at least the next four weeks.

This reduction of the social bubbles follows calls from experts and government representatives for people to reduce their contacts with others, as the government scrambles to stave off a new wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

“If we cannot contain the coronavirus, it will be a collective failure,” Wilmès explained to the press. “As always, take care of yourself and take care of each other,” she added.

Other measures include the doubling down on the need for teleworking, new rules for the events sector and for shopping, but more on that here.

So as the news begins to trickle down - and develop as these things do - let's have a look at the news across the country you should know about.

Belgium in Brief is a free daily roundup of the top stories to get you through your lunch break conversations. To receive it straight to your inbox every day, sign up below:

1. Antwerp announces further measures

While Belgium as a whole may have introduced strict measures, Antwerp region has gone one step further (and the city one step further still). From curfews to teleworking and strict rules for horeca and alcohol sales, here's the latest news.

2. Hundreds of Antwerp restaurants threaten Marc Van Ranst with lawsuit

Hundreds of hospitality business owners in Antwerp are threatening to take a state virologist to court, accusing him of turning the city into a “ghost town” with his statements on the coronavirus pandemic.

The group Help De Horeca said they had already hired a lawyer to plan a potential lawsuit against Marc Van Ranst, a virologist advising the government on the coronavirus pandemic.

“Following Mr Marc Van Ranst’s call for others to not come to Antwerp last Saturday, our beautiful city has been transformed into a ghost town,” the group wrote on a Facebook statement on Monday. Read More.

3. Belgium’s new coronavirus average breaks 300 cases per day again

An average of 311.4 people per day tested positive for the new coronavirus (Covid-19) in Belgium during the past week, according to figures by Sciensano on Tuesday.

The trend of new infections per day has risen by 69% over the 7-day period from 18 to 24 July, compared to the average of 247.9 new infections the week before.

The total number of confirmed cases in Belgium, since the beginning of the pandemic, is 66,428. The total reflects all people in Belgium who have been infected, and includes confirmed active cases as well as patients who have since recovered, or died from the consequences of the virus. Read More.

4. Belgium adds new destinations to its orange travel zones

Belgium has added new destinations to the list of orange travel zones where “heightened vigilance” is required, as coronavirus cases surge in parts of the UK, Austria and Poland.

Northern Ireland and the North West region of England have been added by the Foreign Affairs Ministry to the areas where travel is possible but under certain conditions and with increased vigilance.

Other orange travel zones in the UK already included Wales, the Midlands, the North East of England and Yorkshire. Read more.

5. Coronavirus will leave wedding sector without income for a year

The wedding sector will have no income for a year, says Cynthia De Clercq of the Federation for Professional Wedding Vendors (HL Belgium) following the National Security Council.

De Clercq’s statement follows Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès’ announcement that, as of Wednesday, only ten people will be allowed to attend a wedding reception as part of the tighter restrictions to curb the spread of the new coronavirus (Covid-19). Read More.

6. Yearly Brussels fair cancelled following new coronavirus measures

Brussels’ Foire du Midi will not take place this summer, Brussels Mayor Philippe Close announced on Twitter on Monday.

The Foire du Midi is a yearly fair in Brussels which normally starts on the first Saturday before 21 July – Belgium’s national holiday – and ends in the second half of August.

“Due to the evolution of the epidemic since last Thursday, we had to take the difficult decision to cancel the South Fair. Holding this event is no longer possible taking into account the new rules imposed by the National Security Council,” Close tweeted. Read more.

7. ‘No intention’ to close Belgium’s borders, says Interior Minister

Belgium’s borders will not close to deal with the coronavirus crisis for the time being, according to Interior Minister Pieter De Crem.

After Monday’s National Security Council, De Crem told VRT that “at the moment, there is no intention to close the borders whatsoever.”

As the coronavirus figures continue to rise, the government has tightened several measures again, but Belgian Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès said nothing about additional travel restrictions or a possible closure of the borders. Read more.

Jules Johnston

The Brussels Times

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