Belgium in Brief: Feeling Good/ Pandemic Law

Belgium in Brief: Feeling Good/ Pandemic Law
Credit: Canva/ Belga
Yesterday I said I was writing a newsletter I didn’t want to write again.

Today I’m writing another one ahead of a meeting that wasn’t supposed to be until the end of the week. But by now we’re probably used to the unexpected.

Belgium’s Consultative Committee meets today to talk new rules in light of worsening figures. So what’s up for discussion?

  • More masks? You bet.
  • Expanding the use of the Covid Safe Ticket (CST) across Belgium? Probably, but with rules to be ironed out. 
  • Strongly encouraging teleworking? Looking likely.
  • Activating the pandemic law? Seems so.

What’s definitely NOT on the table (according to De Croo & others)?

  • Closing any sectors.
  • Initiating another lockdown.

Now, as always, I cannot stress enough that nothing is confirmed until De Croo says so. That said, this meeting feels particularly weird. After months of covering these things, I’ve come to expect a little more build-up as the relevant actors get to make their points on what’s to come.

But this time, that part of the dance has felt a little absent, and I could hazard a guess at the why…

For a while it seemed that things were looking up in Belgium’s battle against the coronavirus. Sure, it was never plain sailing, but compared to the start of the year, things were a whole lot better. Perhaps, as virologist Steven Van Gucht put it, we were feeling a little TOO good.

“Thanks to the fact that our vaccination rate is so high, we can give ourselves more freedom today, but I think we have allowed ourselves a bit too much,” Van Gucht said during an analysis of the rising corona figures on Radio 1. “October was a month of parties and mussel festivals and we see that in the figures. It is now time to slow things down again.”

Maybe that’s why this is all a little jarring – even more so than the last-minute nature of it all. Things got steadily worse, then got steadily better.

I’m starting to realise I never quite believed we’d be taking steps back, and certainly not so soon.

See you after the meeting for the news? 

Let @johnstonjules know (or email me

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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. Highest number of new Covid-19 cases recorded since November 2020

Between 16 and 22 October, an average of 5,300 new coronavirus infections were identified every day – a 75% increase from the previous seven days, according to the latest figures published by the Sciensano Public Health Institute on Tuesday morning. Read More.

2. Consultative Committee expected to discuss telework and state of emergency

On Tuesday afternoon, Belgium’s Consultative Committee will be meeting earlier than expected to discuss the worsening epidemiological situation. Read more.

3. Four men charged with illegally buying thousands of live ducks to hunt on private land

Four Belgian men will appear in court on Monday facing charges related to the purchase of thousands of ducks, which were then released into a private hunting ground in the province of Antwerp to be killed for sport. Here’s more.

4. Eating less meat won’t actually help much with Flemish CO2 emissions

According to analysis from the Flemish infocentre for agriculture and horticulture (VILT), eating less meat won’t actually result in much change when it comes to CO2 emissions in Flanders. Read more. 

5. At least one in seven coronavirus patients suffers from long-term Covid

Six months after becoming infected with the coronavirus, at least one in seven people still show symptoms connected to the infection, varying from excessive fatigue to memory problems. Here’s more.

6. Gare Maritime: Brussels’ most exciting new architectural project

A generation ago, the Gare Maritime in the Tour & Taxis industrial site was an abandoned wasteland. It is now a model for urban renewal and sustainable architecture. Its reopening offers a new vision for Brussels, as Angela Dansby reports.

7. Prototype test plane crashes in Belgium after pilot ejects

A prototype aircraft crashed on Sunday afternoon in Yves-Gomezée (Walcourt, Namur province) during a test flight, according to several local media reports, confirmed by Sonaca aircraft in a press release. Read More

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