Belgium in Brief: Easter Eggs And Lockdown Reviews

Belgium in Brief: Easter Eggs And Lockdown Reviews
Credit: Belga/Wikicommons

With the Easter weekend coming up, we have all been urged to keep the celebrations, drinks and barbecues within the current lockdown measures, so that's with the people you already live with.

So, what else is going on? The Easter Bunny apparently has an essential profession, we may get some more clarity on how long this lockdown will last on Tuesday and Wednesday, and -as usual- we have the latest figures for Belgium.

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 26,667 confirmed cases

1,684 new people have tested positive for the new coronavirus (Covid-19), confirmed the Federal Public Health Service during a press conference on Friday.

915 of the newly-infected people live in Flanders, 570 live in Wallonia, and 178 live in Brussels. The FPS does not yet have further information on the place of residence of 21 other people. The total number of cases in Belgium, since the beginning of the pandemic, is 26,667. Read more.

2. Belgium will review lockdown on Wednesday

Belgium’s National Security Council, which decided on the measures to contain the coronavirus as well as their extension until 19 April, will meet again next Wednesday.

The Council will bring together Belgium’s Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès, the country regions’ Minister-Presidents, the competent Ministers as well as experts on 15 April. The group will likely discuss the possible extension of the lockdown measures beyond 19 April, until 3 May. Read more.

3. Sales will be postponed to late summer

Belgium’s work minister has decided to push back the sales period from July to August to cushion the economic blow of the coronavirus pandemic on retailers. She also announced that the period preceding sales in which all price reductions are banned will take place in July instead of June.

Retailers, particularly in fashion, had been asking authorities to postpone sales in order to make up for the losses brought on by the coronavirus lockdown.

“[State support] is like a breath of fresh air but does not compare with the sales revenue that traders can expect in normal times,” Clarisse Ramakers of trade union UCM told RTBF. “It is clear that we will not be able to avoid some breaking, we know there will be bankruptcies ahead.” Read more.

4. Easter Bunny has ‘an essential profession’

The Easter Bunny will still be allowed to go from garden to garden to hide chocolate eggs this weekend, despite the coronavirus measures, as he has “an essential profession,” according to virologist Marc Van Ranst.

“The police are aware of this, and will certainly not disturb the Easter Bunnies during their work,” said Van Ranst on national Radio. “We have been discussing it all day, but the decision was unanimous: this is an essential profession,” he added.

The Easter bells, which are set to fly to Belgium from Rome to deliver coloured eggs and chocolate, are also still allowed to do their jobs, said Van Ranst. Read more.

5. More clarity on future of lockdown expected on Tuesday

Belgium’s Group of Experts for an Exit Strategy (GEES) that has to ease the country out of the lockdown imposed to contain the further spread of the coronavirus will deliver its first report to the government on Tuesday.

“The return to normal can only be gradual,” said Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès before the Members of Parliament on Thursday. The day after the government receives the report, Belgium’s National Security Council will meet.

“There will be a ‘before’ and ‘after’ the coronavirus, in our way of looking at relationships with others and the way we conceive of our society,” Wilmès added. Read more.

6. Belgium turns to makeshift morgues as coronavirus deaths strain funeral homes

Authorities in Belgium have begun setting up makeshift morgues to store bodies as funeral homes become overwhelmed by the surging death toll of the coronavirus pandemic.

A refrigerated truck capable of storing 36 coffins has been hired by the Walloon city of Liège in an effort to buy some time to local funeral homes, a city councillor confirmed.

“A bottleneck situation was building up in funeral homes, with some services that worked through the weekend already having to rent additional storage spaces,” City Councillor Elisabeth Fraipont told The Brussels Times. Read more.

7. Fact Check: freezing a mask doesn’t eliminate coronavirus

Placing a mask or another piece of clothing in the freezer does not help get the infection under control, a spokesperson with the government’s coronavirus advisory team has clarified.

“On social networks, some seem to recommend placing your mask in the freezer. You must understand that the virus will stay alive, placing it in the freezer is a way of conserving it,” Emmanuel André explained on Thursday during the Crisis Centre’s daily press briefing. Read more.

Maïthé Chini

The Brussels Times

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