Belgium in Brief: 10 More Weeks?

Belgium in Brief: 10 More Weeks?
Credit: Piqsels/Belga/Pixabay

As the first work week of lockdown draws to a close, Belgium is faced with a weekend spent mostly inside – or something close to it – but don’t forget to get some fresh air too. If you need a reminder on the practicalities of the lockdown, we’ve got you covered.

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 2,257 confirmed cases

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

302 of the newly infected people live in Flanders, 90 live in Wallonia, and 43 live in Brussels. The FPS does not have further information on the place of residence of 27 other people. The total number of cases in Belgium, since the beginning of the pandemic, is 2,257. Read more.

2. Epidemic could last ten weeks

The current epidemic of coronavirus could last another ten weeks, according to virologist Marc Van Ranst.

That prediction goes much further than the measures in place during the present lockdown, which were announced as lasting until 5 April. Economic measures such as relief from paying tax and social security for the self-employed, and compensation premiums for businesses that have to close, have only been calculated up to that date, now two weeks away. Read more.

3. Coronavirus afterparties scheduled across Europe

With many countries around the world locking down due to the coronavirus, a Berlin-based event company is hoping to organise Coronavirus afterparties throughout the summer.

The ‘Stay At Home’ corona after-parties, which can all be found on Facebook, run from 19 June to 22 August. Of course, Belgium has not been forgotten. There’s a party in Brussels on 11 July, with an exact location yet to be determined.

“We cannot be certain for how long we need to live with social distancing and we might have to move the event accordingly,” they say on Facebook. Read more.

4. Here’s some good news

Today is the International Day of Happiness, and the news is that Belgium is at Number 18 in the Top Twenty of nations worldwide in terms of the happiness of its people.

It might seem unlikely to celebrate happiness while the country is in the grip of a worldwide pandemic that promises to get worse before it gets better, but just for that reason, we’ve gathered together a number of reasons to be cheerful in the face of the infection known as Covid-19. Here are some reasons we found to be happy.

5. SNCB to scrap most trains

From Monday, far fewer trains will be running, as railway company SNCB, network manager Infrabel and the government have announced a “train service of national interest” to guarantee service during the coronavirus crisis.

“This is the only option to maintain a robust, stable and predictable train service,” said SNCB and Infrabel in a press release. The railway companies are reporting an increasing number of sick staff members (up to 30% of the train attendants in some regions), which increases the risk of trains being cancelled unexpectedly without prior notice. Read more.

6. Coronavirus: Netflix agrees to chill

Streaming service Netflix has announced that it will reduce streaming speeds in Europe for 30 days to ease pressure on the Internet, its CEO Reed Hastings announced Thursday.

“Netflix has decided to start reducing bitrates on all our streams in Europe for 30 days. We estimate that this will reduce Netflix traffic on European networks by approximately 25% while ensuring a good quality service to our members,” Hastings said in a statement. Read more.

7. Brussels Airport should close if it cannot enforce social distancing

Brussels Airport should close down if it cannot appropriately enforce social distancing measures, a government virologist said in response to “unacceptable” images of passengers crammed together in terminals.

Virologist Marc Van Ranst – who is a member of the government’s coronavirus response team – said that the management of passenger flows by the country’s busiest airport was “unacceptable.” Read more.

Jules Johnston
The Brussels Times

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