Belgium in Brief: How To Phase Out A Lockdown

Belgium in Brief: How To Phase Out A Lockdown
Credit: Belga/Youtube screengrab/Sebastiaan Haven

Congratulations, it’s Friday. We got there.

The big news of the past 24h was the announcement that Belgium is considering a way to gradually ease the country out of lockdown – when we eventually reach that point. This has been the first discussion of its kind in the country, which is currently under strict measures until at least 19 April,

So what is the latest in Belgium? Police get better guidance on lockdown enforcement measures, Belgian brothers bring skiing to Leuven city centre, and – as always – we have 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. Belgium reaches 16,770 confirmed cases

1,422 new people have tested positive for the new coronavirus (Covid-19), confirmed the FPS Public Health during a press conference on Friday.

865 of the newly-infected people live in Flanders, 374 live in Wallonia, and 167 live in Brussels. The FPS does not yet have further information on the place of residence of 16 other people. The total number of cases in Belgium, since the beginning of the pandemic, is 16,770. Read more.

2. Belgium will end lockdown in phases

A group of high-level experts will start preparing a gradual way out of Belgium’s lockdown that was imposed to contain the further spread of the coronavirus, Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès announced on Thursday.

The group “will be chaired by someone from the scientific world, because it will always be health first,” Wilmès said. Experts from the economic and social world will also be a part of the preparations. Read more.

3. Belgium tries to unify police lockdown enforcement

Belgium has created a task force to bring “clarity” to the country’s diverse police zones on how to enforce the lockdown measures to halt the coronavirus’ spread.

“Both our police forces and our citizens need clarity: something is either allowed or forbidden,” Interior Minister Pieter De Crem said in an online statement. “The current situation does not allow too many shades of grey.” Read more.

4. Video: Brothers ski through Leuven as ski resorts are closed

Two Belgian brothers recorded a video of them skiing through the city of Leuven, as many people were forced to cancel their holiday plans due to new coronavirus (Covid-19) measures.

There’s not much more to it, but watch the video – filmed pre-lockdown measures – here.

5. Coronavirus: Belgium has third most deaths per inhabitant

In Belgium, 828 people died from the consequences of the coronavirus up until 1 April, making it the country with the third most deaths per inhabitant.

Worldwide, only nine countries recorded more deaths than Belgium did in absolute figures. With a total of 13,155 coronavirus deaths on Wednesday, Italy has been hit hardest by the virus. Followed by Spain (9,387) and the United States (5,102). The others were France, China, Iran, the UK, the Netherlands and Germany. Read more.

6. Only 1 person per household should do groceries

According to the measures taken by Belgium’s National Security Council, which are in force until at least 19 April, access to supermarkets is limited to 1 person per 10 square metres. People are only allowed inside for 30 minutes per client.

However, the Belgian Federation for Trade and Services, Comeos, has also called for one person per household to do groceries at a time. “Do your shopping alone. There are still a lot of people who do groceries as a family, but this has to stop,” the federation told De Morgen. “The fewer people in a shop, the better for everyone. For your family, but also for other families,” it added. Read more.

7. Jupiler offers free beer to people with birthdays during lockdown

Jupiler is offering ten free beers to people who “postpone” their birthday, as they cannot celebrate properly until after the lockdown.

The Belgian beer brand then offers 10 glasses of Jupiler or Jupiler 0.0%, to drink in a café from the list on the website. “That way, you can still toast, hug and celebrate with your friends,” the company said. Read more.

Jules Johnston
The Brussels Times

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