Belgium in Brief: Will Covid Steal Christmas?

Belgium in Brief: Will Covid Steal Christmas?
Credit: Pixabay/Belga

Even though the Consultative Committee meeting will not start before 1:00 PM today, several possible measures and relaxations have already made it to the press, ahead of the official go-ahead.

Wallonia's Minister-President Elio Di Rupo hinted at the possibility of lifting the 10:00 PM curfew measure in the region for Christmas, but not for New Year's Eve. He made no statement about what would happen in the Brussels-Capital Region or Flanders.

Additionally, leaders have reportedly already reached a "consensus" to green-light the reopening of non-essential shops next week, according to Pierre-Yves Jeholet, the president of the Brussels-Wallonia Federation.

In the meantime, hospitals are calling on the authorities not to relax the measures yet. Despite the decreasing coronavirus figures, the pressure on hospitals remains high, and they are still in crisis mode.

If the current trend continues, Belgium will still record 500 new coronavirus infections per day by the time Christmas rolls around, according to virologist and interfederal Covid-19 spokesperson Steven Van Gucht.

In any case, nothing is official until Prime Minister Alexander De Croo announces it during the press conference this afternoon. Once we know more, so will you.

Now, on to the news.

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. What to expect from Belgium’s Consultative Committee today

Belgium’s Consultative Committee will gather again on Friday from 1:00 PM to discuss possible relaxations of the strict lockdown measures currently in force against the further spread of the coronavirus.

Even though Prime Minister Alexander De Croo told the House on Thursday that “no major relaxations” were to be expected after today’s meeting, he also hinted at a cautious loosening of some restrictions. Read More.

2. Belgium could reopen non-essential shops ahead of Christmas, top official says

Belgium may give the go-ahead to the reopening of shops in time for Christmas, government officials said ahead of a key coronavirus meeting on Friday.

Amid mounting calls from the retail sector, leaders are set to give the go-ahead to the reopening of non-essential shops, Pierre-Yves Jeholet, the president of the Brussels-Wallonia Federation, said in a radio interview on Friday.

In the clearest sign so far to business, Jeholet confirmed that there was a “consensus” among leaders to green-light a Christmas comeback for all shops from next week. Read More.

3. Intensive care patients approach 1,000 mark as all indicators drop

All coronavirus indicators in Belgium are down according to the latest figures published by the Sciensano public health institute on Friday.

Between 17 and 23 November, an average of 2,764.6 new people tested positive per day over the past week, which is a 37% decrease compared to the week before. Read more.

4. No Christmas Eve curfew? Elio Di Rupo hints at relaxation

The curfew in Wallonia could be relaxed on Christmas Eve, Walloon minister-president Elio Di Rupo said on Thursday, ahead of a Consultative Committee meeting scheduled for 1:00 PM on Friday.

“Christmas is a hyper-affective family celebration. We have to find a solution,” Di Rupo said.

In Wallonia, the curfew applies from 10:00 PM to 6:00 AM, as it does in Brussels. On the night of 24-25 December, the measure could be relaxed. Read More.

5. Pandemic: 25 years of progress lost as women take on most of the work

The coronavirus pandemic could undo 25 years of progress on equality for women in a single year, a report from the United Nations has warned.

The report comes from the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, more conveniently known as UN Women, founded by the General Assembly in 2010.

“Both women and men have increased their unpaid workloads, but women are still doing the lion’s share,” the report says. “Women are also taking on a greater intensity of care-related tasks than men. Meanwhile, parents are getting more help from daughters than sons.” Read more.

6. Coronavirus: Antibody retention varies from patient to patient, study finds

The amount of time antibodies against the new coronavirus persist in the human body varies from one person to another, researchers studying immunity response among Brussels hospital staff said on Thursday.

Announcing the conclusion of the third phase of a study in over 2,000 employees of the UZ Brussel university hospital, the study’s authors said the results indicated that some people kept their antibodies against the virus longer than others. Read more.

7. EuroMillions: After massive €120 million jackpot, winner keeps his promises

Steve Thompson, a 43-year-old Briton, hit the EuroMillions jackpot last year, pocketing €120 million.

But rather than stupidly spending the massive sum, the lucky winner has decided together with his wife Lenka to honour several promises, SudInfo reports.

After winning the money, Steve had announced that he would take the opportunity to help those close to him, and support causes that are dear to him. Read More.

Maïthé Chini

The Brussels Times

Copyright © 2021 The Brussels Times. All Rights Reserved.