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    Belgium in Brief: ‘This Is Not A Lockdown’

    Credit: Pexels/Pixabay/Belga

    In a move long called for by the public, Belgium has closed down bars, restaurants, classes and limit shopping hours for all but the essentials. As shelves begin to empty and the hospitality industry voices concern here’s the latest info from around the country to get you up to speed.

    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. Coronavirus: Belgium reaches 556 confirmed cases

    153 new people have tested positive for the new coronavirus (Covid-19), confirmed the National Crisis Centre during a press conference on Friday.

    “This new number is an underestimation,” said professor Steven Van Gucht, who stressed that this is only the beginning of the epidemic. Read more.

    2. Coronavirus: Belgium cancels school classes, closes bars

    Belgium has taken further steps in working to halt the spread of the coronavirus in the country, with the announcement that it will stop lessons in schools, seriously limit shopping and close all cafes and restaurants and more.

    This news came following the conclusion of a much-anticipated meeting of the National Security Council on Thursday to discuss the approach to the virus. Read more.

    3. Coronavirus will continue to spread in Belgium for months, health minister says

    The coronavirus will continue to circulate in Belgium for several months before receding, Federal Health Minister Maggie De Block said.

    “The virus will continue to spread through our country for around eight to nine more weeks, like in other countries,” De Block said. “It will continue going around.” Read more.

    4. Hospitality sector worries over catastrophe from shutdown

    From midnight tonight, all bars and restaurants in the country are to close until 3 April, under the government’s latest action plan to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

    The measure will be “a catastrophe” for the food and drinks industry, according to Philippe Trinne, vice-president of Horeca Bruxelles, the sector’s professional federation. Read more.

    5. STIB suspends ticket checks to fight coronavirus

    The Brussels public transport company STIB will take several preventive measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus, following the federal government’s announcements on Thursday evening.

    People, however, still need a ticket. Read more.

    6. Kinepolis cinemas close until at least 31 March

    Kinepolis cinema complexes will close their doors as of Friday and until at least 31 March, the group announced in a press release on Thursday evening.

    This decision, taken after consultation with the competent authorities, follows the spread of the coronavirus in Belgium. Read more.

    In Other News

    7. Human rights committee criticises approach to fight against terrorism

    The Committee for vigilance in the fight against terrorism has issued its latest annual report, in which it is critical of the growing arsenal of repressive measures adopted for police and judiciary.

    The committee – known as the Comité T – was created in 2005 and is made up of representatives of human rights organisations, lawyers and academics. It reports every year on the situation as regards the respect of human rights in fighting terrorism. Read more.

    Jules Johnston
    The Brussels Times