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    Belgium in Brief: Belgium Wants A Drink

    Credit: Belga/Pxhere

    Today is the day you’ve been waiting for, or at the very least the current day you’ve been waiting for. Today we hear the latest from the Belgian government on any upcoming phases, deconfinement measures, and – very likely – bars.

    A guide on how bars, cafes and restaurants will be allowed to reopen was proposed 29 May, but still needs to be approved by the National Security Council. A date for the restart has also not been decided on yet, but the date of 8 June has been put forward by several people, including Federal Minister for Work Nathalie Muylle.

    As always, we’ll be watching the press conference and getting you the latest developments when they happen. For now, however, we look at a sword-wielding man on the metro, SNCB’s decision to remove graffiti commemorating George Floyd, and get you 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: new cases drop to 70, 31 new hospital admissions

    70 additional people have tested positive for the new coronavirus (Covid-19) in Belgium in the last 24 hours, according to figures by the Federal Public Health Service on Wednesday.

    This brings the total number of cases in Belgium, since the beginning of the pandemic, to 58,685. 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.

    The figure is a further drop in the number of new cases, down from 98 yesterday, the first time the number has been below 100 since 10 March, before the lockdown started. Read more.

    2. What’s on the agenda for Belgium’s National Security Council today?

    Belgium’s National Security Council will meet on Wednesday 3 June to discuss Phase 3 of the exit plan out of lockdown, which is set to start from 8 June.

    In a statement on her website, Belgian Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès said that Wednesday’s meeting would “specify the third phase, and the subsequent phases” of the exit plan.

    The possibility of more social contact will also be on the table. On 28 May, Professor Erika Vlieghe, who heads the Group of Experts for the Exit Strategy (GEES), said that she wanted to propose new social contact rules at the next meeting. The ‘rule of four’ has “hit its limit,” she said. Read more.

    3. Belgian man has been receiving pizzas he never ordered for years

    A 65-year-old man in Flanders says he is “losing sleep” because he has been receiving pizzas he never ordered for nearly a decade, sometimes several times a day.

    Over the past nine years, pizzas he never asked for have been delivered to Jean Van Landeghem’s home in Turnhout, in the Antwerp province. “It started nine years ago,” Van Landeghem told Het Laatste Nieuws. “Suddenly, a pizza delivery man handed me a whole load of pizzas. But I hadn’t ordered anything,” he added.

    At first, he thought it was a simple mistake in the delivery address, but orders of pizzas, kebabs, pittas and other food that he never ordered kept flowing in. Read more.

    4. Sword-wielding man halts metro traffic in Brussels

    Metro traffic in downtown Brussels was brought to a halt after a sword-wielding man was spotted inside a station, prompting police to intervene.

    The incident took place late on Monday evening in the metro station Porte de Hal, in the Marolles neighbourhood of Brussels.

    The man was seen wandering around the station at around 10:00 PM, carrying a sword-like weapon, which De Standaard reports was a sabre.

    Federal police came to the scene and took the man in for questioning, and traffic on the 2/6 line between the stations Trône and Gare du Midi was briefly interrupted. Read more.

    5. TUI to gradually reopen shops from 9 June

    Tour operator TUI will gradually start opening its shops again from 9 June after the closure imposed because of the coronavirus crisis, the group announced on Tuesday.

    18 shops will reopen on the first day, and by 16 June, the group’s 105 shops will open its doors to customers again.

    The demand for holidays has increased rapidly in recent days, thanks to positive signals concerning travelling abroad during the summer holidays, according to TUI. Read more.

    6. ‘Please, I can’t breathe’ tag poses safety issue, says Belgian Rail

    A popular graffiti tag honouring George Floyd will be removed from a Belgian train as the operator believes it poses a significant safety issue, regardless of the outcome of an ongoing petition to save it.

    Despite over 7,000 signatures on a change.org petition, SNCB has said that the mural of Floyd’s last words – “Please, I can’t breathe” – which appeared on the side of a train will have to be removed because it prevents passengers from seeing through the train window.

    “The rule is that we always remove graffiti as quickly as possible, which we will do in this case as well,” Bart Crols, spokesperson for SNCB, told The Brussels Times. “We want to stress that we certainly understand the displeasure and anger that reigns regarding what happened in the United States, but there are other ways to express your opinion or displeasure,” he added. Read more.

    7. ‘Astounding’: fox makes off with handbag after sneaking into Brussels home

    Images of a fox sliding into a Brussels home in broad daylight before making off with a handbag have left Brussels residents “astounded.”

    Last week, Brussels resident Pierre Alexis captured footage of the moment in which a little fox can be seen sliding into a partly-open garage door in the southern municipality of Forest in broad daylight. Read More.

    Jules Johnston
    The Brussels Times