The sun is shining (for now), the lockdown is becoming more relaxed, the epidemic is ebbing away (for now). Time for some good news to see you into the rest of this long Ascension weekend.
• The Antwerp Zoo, which normally remains open 365 days a year, opened its gates for the first time since March, but only for season ticket holders, and only by appointment. Nevertheless, both staff and animals were happy to see the public return, albeit under strict coronavirus rules. The Zoo’s other branch, animal park Planckendael near Mechelen, also re-opened.
• Entomologists were surprised to report two sightings of the bee species Andrena lagopus in Namur province, whereas it is more usually found in the south of France. The presence in Belgium of the bee, which feeds on plants like rape and mustard, is an indication of the effect of climate change, experts said. A. lagopus belongs to the same family as the wild bees common in Belgium, which are different from the bees kept for their honey.
• Major jazz festivals including Jazz Middelheim, Brosella, Brussels Jazz Festival and Brussels Jazz Weekend have joined forces in the face of a ban on festivals and major events to produce Bel Jazz Festival, which will be recorded and broadcast on May 29 and 30 from the iconic Flagey building in Brussels. Tickets cost €15 from the online box office, and donations are invited.
• A group of about a dozen cows escaped from their field near Beveren in East Flanders and went for a cooling dip in the nearby stream. When the fire service arrived the animals were shoulder-deep in the water. They later made their own way back onto land an returned to their field.
• Patients and staff at the Middelheim hospital in Antwerp were treated on Wednesday to an impromptu performance by a violinist and a dancer from Opera Ballet Vlaanderen in the hospital’s inner courtyard. The company said the performance was a special tribute to the front-line health workers.
• Finally, a couple from Deinze were this week able at the last minute to fly to Wisconsin in the US to be present for the birth of Warre, a baby boy born of a surrogate mother. Parents Bart and Olivier were able despite coronavirus restrictions to obtain a visa thanks to the intervention of deputy prime minister Alexander De Croo.