Belgium in Brief: When Will The Borders Open?

Belgium in Brief: When Will The Borders Open?
Credit: Pexels/CC/Suzy Hazelwood/PxHere

As the country begins to ease into the latest measures ahead of Monday's reopening of various sectors, people are starting to move their minds beyond the end of the week to the big question.

Will we be able to leave Belgium this Summer?

From the thousands of expats from across Europe wondering if they can return home - personally I'm forgetting what Scotland looks like - to those tourists and businesses planning for the potential summer season, the country wants to know when the borders will open.

While 15 June - the proposed date - is a seemingly impossible time away, that is the date Belgium has settled on as Europe as a whole continues to plan an efficient way to settle.

So as airlines begin to plan (yet another) round of dates to start flying again and Belgians admit they don't really trust Belgians, let's have a look at the latest news from within the country.

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. 56 new deaths, 67 hospital admissions in Belgium

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

This brings the total number of cases in Belgium, since the beginning of the pandemic, to 54,644. The total reflects all people in Belgium who have been infected, and includes confirmed active cases as well as patients who have since recovered, or died from the consequences of the virus.

248 of the newly-infected people live in Flanders, 80 live in Wallonia, and 28 live in Brussels. “The trend of new infections is still decreasing, by about 10% per day over the last 7 days,” said professor Steven Van Gucht. Read more.

2. Belgians don’t trust Belgians to follow containment measures

The majority of Belgians do not expect their fellow countrymen to respect the most recent lockdown measures, a new study has shown.

Between 85-90% of Beglains do not think that people will respect the ‘rule of four’ placed on gatherings, according to the Great Corona Study by the University of Antwerp.

“Only 10 to 15% of people – in all age categories – think that other people will follow the rule well or very well,” explained researcher Professor Thomas Neyens (UHasselt/KU Leuven) “The older generations tend to think that people sometimes will, sometimes won’t follow the rules. In particular, we see less confidence in other households among the group of adults, e.g. 18 to 35-year-olds,” he added. Read more.

3. Belgium wants to open borders by 15 June

Belgium aims to reopen its borders to tourists by 15 June, according to Interior Minister Pieter De Crem.

On Wednesday, the European Commission presented a series of recommendations to “safely resume travel and reboot Europe’s tourism,” but left the decision of when its member states could open their borders to tourists, and when their own people can travel again up to the different countries.

Talks on the re-opening of the European internal borders are gaining momentum, according to De Crem, with Germany wanting to reopen them by 15 June. Read more.

4. Belgium's excess mortality highest since the Second World War

The death toll in Belgium was the highest the country has seen since the end of the Second World War, according to research by the group Interface Demography from the Free University of Brussels (VUB).

The research refers to what is known as surplus or excess mortality, in other words, the number of deaths over a given period in excess of the number that would normally be expected at that time.

The proximate cause: the coronavirus, which had killed just under 9,000 people in Belgium when yesterday’s figures were announced. Read More

5. Can a tenant refuse to allow visits to the property?

A tenant who felt uncomfortable about the landlord arranging visits to their apartment in these times of continuing confinement would have a case for refusing, according to José Garcia, president of the national tenants’ syndicate.

Garcia was responding to a landlord inquiring on the website of RTL television. His tenant is leaving, and during the notice period, the landlord wishes to arrange visits by prospective new tenants, but the current occupant feels uncomfortable agreeing.

So, what rights do the two sides have?

6. ‘Let older people pay a corona tax’ to support the young

A Belgian economist has proposed a special tax on older people to help the young overcome the economic problems caused by the coronavirus.

Older people aged over 65 years suffer disproportionately from the medical effects of the virus, admits Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, who teaches at Oxford University. But the economic effects come down hardest on the young.

“Young people benefit the least from the lockdown measures, because they are less susceptible to the virus,” De Neve told VRT news. “The older generation should realise that young people are sacrificing themselves, both economically and in terms of mental health.” Read more.

7. Lime scooters gradually return to Brussels from today

After a temporary suspension of activities since mid-March due to containment measures, e-scooter service Lime is restarting its services in Brussels, the US-based company said on Friday.

From now on, 250 scooters are available throughout the capital. The fleet will then be gradually adapted to demand and the resumption of activities.

For several weeks, Lime had been removing its electric scooters to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus. The company explained that it had suspended operations as a precautionary measure and to comply with government directives, but that it would return once the crisis was under control. Read More.

Jules Johnston

The Brussels Times

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