Share article:
Share article:

Belgium in Brief: 4 Week Lockdown Prevention Plan

Credit: Belga/Pexels

‘Yesterday was a big day for news in Belgium’ has almost become the leading line for this newsletter, but it’s still true.

Following on from the rapid and “worrying” increase in coronavirus infections in the country, and to prevent a full-blown second wave, Belgium has increased measures again.

The biggest news was the shrinking of social groups from a fluid 15 to a fixed 5, from 29 July for at least the next four weeks.

This reduction of the social bubbles follows calls from experts and government representatives for people to reduce their contacts with others, as the government scrambles to stave off a new wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

“If we cannot contain the coronavirus, it will be a collective failure,” Wilmès explained to the press. “As always, take care of yourself and take care of each other,” she added.

Other measures include the doubling down on the need for teleworking, new rules for the events sector and for shopping, but more on that here.

So as the news begins to trickle down – and develop as these things do – let’s have a look at the news across the country you should know about.

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. Antwerp announces further measures

While Belgium as a whole may have introduced strict measures, Antwerp region has gone one step further (and the city one step further still). From curfews to teleworking and strict rules for horeca and alcohol sales, here’s the latest news.

2. Hundreds of Antwerp restaurants threaten Marc Van Ranst with lawsuit

Hundreds of hospitality business owners in Antwerp are threatening to take a state virologist to court, accusing him of turning the city into a “ghost town” with his statements on the coronavirus pandemic.

The group Help De Horeca said they had already hired a lawyer to plan a potential lawsuit against Marc Van Ranst, a virologist advising the government on the coronavirus pandemic.

“Following Mr Marc Van Ranst’s call for others to not come to Antwerp last Saturday, our beautiful city has been transformed into a ghost town,” the group wrote on a Facebook statement on Monday. Read More.

3. Belgium’s new coronavirus average breaks 300 cases per day again

An average of 311.4 people per day tested positive for the new coronavirus (Covid-19) in Belgium during the past week, according to figures by Sciensano on Tuesday.

The trend of new infections per day has risen by 69% over the 7-day period from 18 to 24 July, compared to the average of 247.9 new infections the week before.

The total number of confirmed cases in Belgium, since the beginning of the pandemic, is 66,428. 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. Belgium adds new destinations to its orange travel zones

Belgium has added new destinations to the list of orange travel zones where “heightened vigilance” is required, as coronavirus cases surge in parts of the UK, Austria and Poland.

Northern Ireland and the North West region of England have been added by the Foreign Affairs Ministry to the areas where travel is possible but under certain conditions and with increased vigilance.

Other orange travel zones in the UK already included Wales, the Midlands, the North East of England and Yorkshire. Read more.

5. Coronavirus will leave wedding sector without income for a year

The wedding sector will have no income for a year, says Cynthia De Clercq of the Federation for Professional Wedding Vendors (HL Belgium) following the National Security Council.

De Clercq’s statement follows Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès’ announcement that, as of Wednesday, only ten people will be allowed to attend a wedding reception as part of the tighter restrictions to curb the spread of the new coronavirus (Covid-19). Read More.

6. Yearly Brussels fair cancelled following new coronavirus measures

Brussels’ Foire du Midi will not take place this summer, Brussels Mayor Philippe Close announced on Twitter on Monday.

The Foire du Midi is a yearly fair in Brussels which normally starts on the first Saturday before 21 July – Belgium’s national holiday – and ends in the second half of August.

“Due to the evolution of the epidemic since last Thursday, we had to take the difficult decision to cancel the South Fair. Holding this event is no longer possible taking into account the new rules imposed by the National Security Council,” Close tweeted. Read more.

7. ‘No intention’ to close Belgium’s borders, says Interior Minister

Belgium’s borders will not close to deal with the coronavirus crisis for the time being, according to Interior Minister Pieter De Crem.

After Monday’s National Security Council, De Crem told VRT that “at the moment, there is no intention to close the borders whatsoever.”

As the coronavirus figures continue to rise, the government has tightened several measures again, but Belgian Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès said nothing about additional travel restrictions or a possible closure of the borders. Read more.

Jules Johnston
The Brussels Times

Latest news

At least one in seven coronavirus patients suffers from long-term Covid
Six months after becoming infected with the coronavirus, at least one in seven people still show symptoms connected to the infection, varying from ...
Operation Sky ECC: Major arrests and another large scale operation
A major operation took place last night in Belgium as a result of Operation Sky ECC, the name given to an investigation into organised crime that ...
Consultative Committee expected to discuss telework and state of emergency
On Tuesday afternoon, Belgium's Consultative Committee will be meeting earlier than expected to discuss the worsening epidemiological situation. ...
Highest number of new Covid-19 cases recorded since November 2020
The number of people testing positive for the coronavirus in Belgium is continuing to increase and has now reached levels last recorded in November ...
Prototype test plane crashes in Belgium after pilot ejects
A prototype aircraft crashed on Sunday afternoon in Yves-Gomezée (Walcourt, Namur province) during a test flight, according to several local media ...
EU questions Israeli decision to ban Palestinian NGOs
The Israeli government’s decision on Friday to outlaw six Palestinian civil society organisations operating in the West Bank has caused consternation ...
More politicians than ordinary citizens at the Conference on the Future of Europe
The second Plenary of the Conference took place on Saturday in the European Parliament in Strasbourg and discussed the contributions from the ...
Belgium’s Consultative Committee will meet today
The next meeting of Belgium's Consultative Committee, scheduled for Friday, has been brought forward to Tuesday at 4:30 PM, according to local media ...
Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Unilever are world’s biggest plastic polluters
Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and Unilever were found to be the world's biggest polluters of plastic in a report published by Branded on Monday. Over 11,000 ...
Four men charged with illegally buying thousands of live ducks to hunt on private land
Four Belgian men will appear in court on Monday facing charges related to the purchase of thousands of ducks, which were then released into a private ...
More wolf attacks: 15 deer killed at family resort over the weekend
Fifteen deer were killed by wolves in the Belgian province of Limburg this weekend, between Saturday night and Sunday morning. The deer were ...
Cost of breast cancer still too high for many patients
Breast cancer still carries too high a cost for patients when one in nine women in Belgium will face the disease before reaching 75, according to a ...