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Belgium in Brief: Will The Lockdown Extend?

Credit: Jules Johnston/Belga/CC

Another work week is almost over, but the news keeps coming. Expectations are high that the current lockdown measures will extend in some format, and we’ll be listening live to this evening’s press conference to make sure you know whatever changes – and not before.

So what is the latest in Belgium? We provide some real-life examples of how far apart 1.5m really is, delve into the fact more men are dying than women, and – as always – keep you informed on the latest figures.

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 7,284 confirmed cases

1,049 new people have tested positive for the new coronavirus (Covid-19), confirmed the FPS Public Health during a press conference on Friday.

772 of the newly-infected people live in Flanders, 131 live in Wallonia, and 137 live in Brussels. The FPS does not have further information on the place of residence of 9 other people. The total number of cases in Belgium, since the beginning of the pandemic, is 7,284. Read more.

2. Coronavirus: Why are more men than women dying?

As coronavirus figures from all over the world are being reported on, it seems that more men than women are dying from the consequences of the virus.

Even though men and women are equally at risk of contracting the coronavirus, more men become seriously ill, and they die more often too, according to figures from across the world.

In Italy, over 70% of the people who have died from the virus are men, and the Netherlands reports about 65% male casualties. Spain even reported that twice as many men as women seem to be dying from the virus. In Belgium, too, the lives of more men than women are in danger, according to the latest figures. Read more.

3. Jambon: Crisis measures likely to be prolonged today

The National Security Council is due to meet today, and is expected to prolong the measures already in force to combat the spread of the coronavirus, perhaps even tightening up some provisions, Flemish minister-president Jan Jambon told the VRT.

“Traditionally, we look to see if the measures in force are being put into practice properly,” said Jambon, who sits on the council along with other ministers-president Elio Di Rupo (Wallonia) and Rudi Vervoort (Brussels).

“We look to see if clarifications are required. Every rule has a limit, and sometimes people push things to the limit. The specialists will tell us if the measures are sufficient. It’s not the politicians who decide what measures should be taken.” Read more.

4. Social distancing: a visual guide to 1.5 meters

Current government measures say that to be complying with social distancing we should be staying 1.5 metres away from other people (aside from those we already share a space with.)

But how far is that in toilet roll? In DVDs? Or STIB cards? I took the time to find out.

If you have your own measuring suggestion, let me know @JohnstonJules.

5. Belgian landlords asked for leniency towards tenants

Belgian landlords have been asked to be understanding with regard to their tenants as Belgium faces up to the coronavirus pandemic.

There is a need “to seek out the most useful solutions for both parties with their tenants, the important thing being that commercial tenants can get through this bad period without too much trouble,” explained Olivier Hamal, president of the National Union of Owners and Co-owners (SNPC). Read more.

6. Coronavirus: 10,000 cultural events cancelled in Belgium

More than 10,000 events have already been cancelled or postponed in Belgium due to coronavirus.

While this is an approximate number, “it is certainly not forced,” said Séverine Provost, general manager of Be Culture, one of Belgium’s biggest agencies in the cultural communication sector. “We made calls all over Flanders, Brussels and Wallonia. The situation is desperate and we haven’t even considered the question of the probable cancellation of the summer festivals.” Read more.

7. Clock change this weekend: wasn’t that finished?

Belgium will once again switch to daylight saving time on the night of Saturday to Sunday, which means that at two o’clock in the morning the hands will advance by one hour. 

In other words, we will lose an hour’s sleep. But wait, didn’t we stop changing the clocks? Nope.

Jules Johnston
The Brussels Times