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    Belgium in Brief: Belgium Shuts Down

    Credit: Belga/Pxfuel

    It happened. Following on from other European countries, Belgium has now entered into a near-complete shutdown – but officially hasn’t called it a lockdown.

    This long-expected change means the further closing of shops, working from home becomes the norm and social distancing measures become mandatory for services staying open. It’s a lot to follow.

    With so much information, and so little time to catch up before it potentially changes again, here are some of the top stories 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 1,486 confirmed cases

    243 new people have tested positive for the new coronavirus (Covid-19), confirmed the FPS Public Health during a press conference on Wednesday.

    133 of the newly infected people live in Flanders, 66 live in Wallonia, and 41 live in Brussels. The FPS does not have further information on the place of residence of 3 other people. The total number of cases in Belgium, since the beginning of the pandemic, is 1,486. Read more.

    2. Coronavirus: Belgium enters nation-wide shutdown from noon

    Eleven million more people will go into lockdown from Wednesday noon, as Belgium becomes the latest country in the EU to force public life to shut down to curb the coronavirus pandemic.

    Referred to as “necessary sacrifice,” the new measures are the most drastic ones taken by the National Security Council to date, and come days after France imposed a 15-day lockdown as well. Read more.

    3. What are the new measures? 

    New measures will officially go into force from today until early April, but what exactly are they? How can you make sure you’re following them? Can you go outside any more? Here’s some help.

    4. Ignoring new measures could lead to fines or prison

    Anyone found ignoring the new instructions issued by the government to tackle the spread of coronavirus could face prosecution, according to Ine Van Wymersch, the public prosecutor for Halle-Vilvoorde.

    “Anyone who fails to keep to the rules is putting public health in serious danger,” she told VRT radio. Read more.

    5. Coronavirus: EU leaders agree to external border shutdown

    EU leaders agreed to seal the external borders of the bloc to non-EU residents travelling for non-essential reasons, in an effort to provide a concerted response to the coronavirus pandemic.

    Calls from the EU Commission received “broad support” from member states which will now be tasked to implement the checks on their external borders, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said. Read more.

    6. New test to diagnose coronavirus developed by University of Namur

    The University of Namur has developed a new procedure to diagnose the coronavirus.

    The procedure was approved by the Federal Agency for Medicines and Health Products (FAMHP) on Tuesday afternoon. The technique will increase the number of tests carried out in Belgium, and will be used in addition to the tests used by the reference laboratories. Read more.

    7. Deliveroo makes all orders ‘contact-free’

    Food delivery service Deliveroo has announced that it will make the pick-up and delivery of all food contact-free, in a response to the continued spread of the coronavirus.

    “This is to help protect your safety, as well as the safety of our restaurants and riders in Belgium as the Covid-19 outbreak continues,” the company said in an email to users on Wednesday morning. Read more.

    Jules Johnston
    The Brussels Times