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Belgium in Brief: Making New Travel Plans (Again)

Credit: Belga

The inevitable has happened, the tide of travel advice is turning against Belgium, or at least parts of it.

News this morning broke that the Netherlands had banned non-essential travel to Antwerp, and was quickly followed by the suggestion that the UK could be considering a mandatory quarantine for anyone returning there from Belgium.

To many, this is a massive upheaval. Easing of coronavirus measures across the board had left people confident that they might be able to return home, but Belgium’s mounting numbers mean that might not be the case.

As with everything else during the crisis, all we can do is wait and see for now, as Belgium’s Brits scramble to make new plans.

So what else in the news? Let’s have a look.

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. Don’t look for loopholes to dodge measures, Crisis Centre urges

Belgian health authorities have urged people not to look for loopholes to bypass coronavirus measures, and to reduce their social contacts as much as possible, during a press conference on Wednesday.

“We urge you to not look for loopholes to get around the rules, but to use your common sense,” said Boudewijn Catry, spokesperson for Sciensano, who stressed that all measures were taken in the spirit of limiting your contacts as much as possible.

Over the past week, 328 people were infected every day in Belgium on average, which is an increase of 70% compared to the week before. Additionally, 23 new patients were also admitted to hospital per day over the past seven days. Read More

2. Antwerp, Antwerp, Antwerp

It’s the City (and province) leading headlines in Belgium, so here’s a roundup within a roundup:

Antwerp’s stricter measures will be a template for other affected zones in Belgium

If other municipalities in Belgium start seeing coronavirus figures similar to the ones in Antwerp, the same strict measures will be implemented, according to virologist Marc Van Ranst.

The Netherlands bans non-essential travel to Antwerp

The Netherlands has listed the province of Antwerp as an orange travel zone, advising residents to steer clear of the area for all non-essential travel.

Antwerp curfew did not start last night as the legal basis was not ready

Despite dominating headlines in Belgium throughout the day, the province of Antwerp was not able to begin its curfew yesterday evening due to a hold up of the legal process.

3. Belgium’s new coronavirus average rises to 328 infections per day

An average of 327.7 people per day tested positive for the new coronavirus (Covid-19) in Belgium during the past week, according to figures by Sciensano on Wednesday.

The trend of new infections per day has risen by 70% over the 7-day period from 19 to 25 July, compared to the average of 260.2 new infections the week before. Read More.

4. UK considers quarantine for people returning from Belgium

British travellers to Belgium may face quarantine measures upon their return to the UK, The Times reports on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson pointed out that continental Europe is in the grip of a second wave of coronavirus (Covid-19) infections and that the government is ready to take action “where it is necessary.”

This quarantine for people arriving from Belgium could start as soon as Wednesday, according to The Times. Read more.

5. Travellers with fever can easily fly from Brussels Airport, expert warns

Brussels Airport’s questionnaire to determine whether those with more than 38 degrees fever can fly is too easy to circumvent, professor Dirk Devroey told De Standaard on Wednesday.

If you still have a fever of more than 38 degrees after three checks, you have to complete a questionnaire, which asks whether you’ve been in contact with someone infected with coronavirus in the last two weeks.

Based on these answers, a doctor on the spot will decide whether you can still board the plane. In other words, if you indicate on the questionnaire that you are not suffering from any other symptoms, it is possible to travel despite having a high fever. Read More.

6. Rediscovering the forgotten and unknown Belgium

Derek Blyth, author of Hidden Belgium, shows a few places that are off the beaten track. Here are his tips for a quiet trip during the coronavirus summer.

7. Gymnastics federation sets up ethics commission to investigate complaints

The Flemish gymnastics commission, Gymfed, has announced the setting up of a new ethics commission to look into allegations of abuse of young gymnasts by coaches.

The issue of physical and mental abuse of gymnasts during training has been a matter of concern for some years now, but came to a head last week when Gerrit Beltman, formerly a leading coach in the Dutch federation KNGU, gave an interview to a Dutch newspaper in which he admitted threatening and humiliating young female gymnasts to make them train harder. Read more.

Jules Johnston
The Brussels Times

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