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Belgium in Brief: How To Visit A Restaurant

As we said yesterday, it’s official that Belgium will be moving into Phase 3 as of Monday. Now it’s been a day since the news broke, we also have some practical info on how things could actually work.

Among the many changed measures – full list here – comes the long-awaited news that cafes, bars and restaurants may reopen.

This news comes with new logistics for both customers and owners, from spaced out tables, new cleaning procedures and definitive rules to avoid things that would have been second nature before the crisis.

How it will work in practice, however, will only be seen from Monday.

For the last recap of the week, we take a look at the recent news on Belgium’s most famous cat, update you on the Black Lives Matter protests in Brussels, and provide 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. Wanted cat Lee can be flown to Peru and back

Peru’s ambassador to Belgium has confirmed that a cat which risked euthanasia after being illegally flown into Belgium could be repatriated.

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the cat’s entry into Belgium had sparked a row between its 23-year-old owner and top government officials, including the federal food agency AFSCA.

The ambassador’s reply means that the cat will be flown to Peru, observe quarantine there, and then be flown back to Belgium, the owner’s lawyer, Anthony Godfroid explained. Read more.

2. Cheat-sheet: The new rules for customers returning to bars

The latest announcements from the Belgian National Security Council have confirmed that the Belgian HoReCa (hotel, restaurant and catering) sector will once again be able to welcome customers from Monday 8 June.

A newly published “guide for a safe restart of the HoReCa” published by the FPS Economy, has set out the rules that need to be followed for customers as the places begin to reopen.

So What Are The New Guidelines For Customers?

3. Coronavirus: 140 new cases, number in hospital down to 700

140 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 58,907. 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.

Presenting the daily figures at the now-weekly Friday press conference, Dr Yves Van Laethem, one of the two spokespersons for the crisis centre, pointed to a study carried out by the health institute Sciensano, which compared the cumulative figures for the past week with those for the previous week. Read more.

4. PM calls for ‘alternative’ to Black Lives Matter march in Brussels

Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès has called on the City of Brussels to find an “alternative” to a Black Lives Matter protest (BLM) in Brussels which over 6,000 have said they will attend this weekend.

“I hope that one will be able to find an alternative to that demonstration, which would run counter to the measures we have taken to protect them, not to muzzle or silence them,” Wilmès said in an address to parliament on Thursday. Read more. 

5. Leopold II statue defaced at Africa Museum

A statue of Leopold II in the garden of the Africa Museum in Tervuren was defaced, VRT reported Thursday evening. 

Other statues of the former Belgian king had already been vandalized in Halle, Ostend, Ghent and Ekeren.

Leopold II is criticised for his reign of terror in the Congo in the 19th century, when the territory belonged to him personally. Read more.

6. ‘Helpy hour’: 1 drink for the price of 2 to support cafes

The Federation for Cafes in Belgium, Fedcaf, is launching a “helpy hour” campaign, in which clients will pay for two drinks but only get one, to support the cafes after the lockdown.

The federation has reversed the “happy hour” principle, in which cafes give clients two drinks for the price of one. “A simple but powerful gesture to get bar owners back on their feet,” the federation said.

“For years, customers have been pampered with happy hour. Now, we are going to try to do the opposite with helpy hour, to help the cafes keep their head above the water,” said Diane Delen, the president of the Federation. “It is temporary, but we want to avoid an avalanche of bankruptcies. And when everything gets back to normal, the customer will be happy, because happy hours will return,” she added. Read more.

7. Tomorrowland will organise a digital festival this summer

As a regular edition of the Tomorrowland music festival cannot be organised because of the coronavirus this summer, the organisers will organise a digital edition on the last weekend of July.

Initially, the festival was set to take place over the last two weekends of July, but the digital alternative, called “Tomorrowland around the world,” will only take place during the last weekend of the month, on 25 and 26 July from 3:00 PM to 1:00 AM on both days, on the festival’s websiteRead More.

Jules Johnston
The Brussels Times

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