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    Belgium in Brief: What Is An Orange Zone?

    Credit: Belga/Lynne Simmerman

    We get it, the traffic light system is not the most exciting thing to be reading about – but if you learned to cross the road, you can get this system down. Even if it doesn’t always seem the easiest to get your head around.

    Green means go (or you can go, people actually wanting to travel is a totally different issue, as is the debate on if Belgians are allowed to enter the countries that Belgium has marked green).

    Orange zone means travellers will need to have “increased vigilance” and will be asked – NOT forced – to get tested and quarantine upon return.

    Red means a formal travel ban, so people returning from a red zone are required to be tested and quarantined when back in Belgium.

    See, simple enough right?

    The far more complex part of this is seemingly constant changes to the colour markings of the areas. Updated with increased frequency over the past few days – even twice in one day at one point – it’s always best to keep one eye on the traffic lights when planning for a trip.

    In the meantime, the country adjusts to wearing masks in most areas of life with some success & some dramatic stories of disgruntled customers, but we’ll get to that.

    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 to quarantine travellers from 18 more EU areas

    This weekend, Belgium published an updated list of EU regions and countries that are now considered “red” or “orange zones” for travel, meaning travellers from there will be asked to quarantine upon return.

    The list of red, orange and green travel zones on the website of Belgium’s Foreign Affairs Department was updated this weekend with more red zones, as well as several orange ones. Read more.

    2. Woman arrested for attacking Lidl staff who told her to wear a mask

    Antwerp police have arrested a 28-year-old woman after she attacked the cashier and started throwing flower pots in a Lidl on Saturday,

    Officers were called on a Lidl in Antwerp North on Saturday after the woman grew aggressive towards staff when she was reminded that she should have worn a mask.

    When police arrived, she tried to bite them. Read more.

    3. New coronavirus infections in Belgium rise for the third day in a row

    An average of 84 people per day tested positive for the new coronavirus (Covid-19) in Belgium during the past week, according to figures by the Federal Public Health Service on Friday.

    The total number of confirmed cases in Belgium, since the beginning of the pandemic, is 62,357. 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. Read More.

    4. ‘Don’t like it, don’t board’: outrage over crowds at Brussels Airport

    Images of passengers being packed together waiting to board a flight at Brussels Airport have sparked outrage online as one passenger explained how social distancing measures were not respected at all.

    One passenger, Lynne Simmerman, took to social media to show what she called “unacceptable service” at Brussels Airport when she and her 4-year-old child were told to “just push through” the waiting crowd when they wanted to board their United Airlines flight on Thursday.

    “I have submitted a complaint to the airline, but I have not received a response yet,” Simmerman told The Brussels Times. Read more.

    5. Belgians open their gardens to travellers for a lockdown-proof summer

    A Brussels-based biking enthusiast has come up with an alternative holiday destination for those looking to travel locally during a summer rife with coronavirus-uncertainties: other people’s gardens.

    Welcome to My Garden, an online platform launched by 28-year-old Dries Van Ransbeeck, aims to connect locals with ‘slow travellers’ (hikers and cyclists) moving through the country this summer and looking for a place to pitch a tent.

    “The idea is for locals to put their gardens at the disposal of slow travellers for a maximum camping stay of 48 hours,” Van Ransbeeck said, adding that his project aimed to contribute to a different way of travelling in Belgium. Read more.

    6. Compulsory face masks, day one: ‘Everything went calmly’

    Saturday was the first day the population was obliged to wear a face mask in public spaces like shops, banks and cinemas.

    The measure had been introduced at very short notice, although experts had been calling for it for longer. How did it go on the first day?

    “The rule was very well respected, that was what we hoped for,” said Dominique Michel, managing director of Comeos, the federation for the retail sector. “We appealed to everyone’s sense of responsibility and everyone heard that call. It went very well.” Read more.

    7. 8.5 million free face masks still available in Belgian pharmacies

    “Twelve million of these masks were sent by the Defence to 28 wholesalers’ depots, which in turn distributed a large proportion of them to pharmacies,” said APB vice-president Koen Straetmans.

    Only 3.5 million masks out of the 12 million ordered by Defence have been distributed so far. Read more.

    Jules Johnston
    The Brussels Times