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    Some good news to take you into the weekend

    The Ronald McDonald House in Jette. © Ronald McDonald Fund

    The latest phase of the dismantling of the lockdown may not be great news for swimmers or wedding planners, but it’s positive for most others.

    In any case, there’s always room for more good news, so here are a few items to brighten a drizzly weekend.

    • The Ronald McDonald house at the Brussels university hospital in Jette is to reopen after the lockdown. The house – sponsored by the McDonald’s hamburger empire – exists to provide a more homely respite for the parents and siblings of children who are being treated in the hospital, and who may come from too far away to return home each day. The house, the first of its kind in Belgium, was opened in December by Prince Laurent and Flemish minister for Brussels, Benjamin Dalle (CD&V).

    • At the same time, the hospital’s TOPAZ centre, which provides similar domestic surroundings for patients with a life-threatening condition, is also opening, with the standard restrictions on numbers and protective equipment.

    • A painting by the Ghent-born artist Théo van Rysselberghe (1862-1926) has been sold by Christie’s in Paris for €5 million, far in excess of its estimate of €2-3 million. The painting, The Game of Tennis, shows members of the painter’s family playing tennis in the ground of the abbey of Aulne near Charleroi. Prior to the sale, the painting was on show for several days at the saleroom’s Brussels branch.

    • After being almost torpedoed by the outbreak of coronavirus in the last days of shooting, the drama series The Serpent by Flemish director Hans Herbot will now be shown by the BBC and Netflix during the Christmas season. The eight-part series deals with the true story of a serial killer who preyed on young backpackers in Thailand, India and Nepal in the 1970s. Production had to be shut down in Thailand and later in Budapest because of restrictions related to the pandemic, but Herbot hopes to be able to make up for lost time before the series is aired.

    • The city of Brussels has given permission for 280 restaurants and cafes to extend their outdoor terraces when they reopen on Monday, city councillor Fabian Maingain (DéFI) said. A total of 350 applications have been received, mainly from within the inner ring road. More permissions may be given in the days to come, Maingain’s office said.

    • Meanwhile in Leuven, the Oude Markt, often described as the biggest cafe terrace in the world, is ready to open again on Monday after extensive talks between police, cafe owners and city authorities. “We are well prepared and ready to start with the utmost confidence in the horeca sector,” said police chief Jean-Paul Mouchaers. “But we will be present with extra people in the field for the first few days to make adjustments where necessary.”

    Alan Hope
    The Brussels Times