Share article:
Share article:

Belgium in Brief: Heading Home For The Summer

It seems a little like we have jumped back in time to news stories that already happened.

Heatwave? Check. Rising cases? Check. Out-of-office notes a-plenty as people go on holiday? Certainly.

We have reached the strange doldrums of August when many opt to take their vacations. While the majority would normally be setting off for warmer climates, jumping on planes, or setting off for a long drive to a favourite holiday spot, that’s not so much the case now.

Speaking to Belgium in Brief, many travellers seem to be heading home for the time being – taking advantage of temporarily eased travel measures and hoping they last. Many of those not going to their country of origin are embarking on travels to safe regions, keeping an eye on the news while they do to ensure that doesn’t change.

Are you on vacation? Did your plan change in light of the new measures? Let us know here.

So before you stop reading your emails for a month, let’s take a look at the latest news.

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 breaks an average of 500 new infections a day

An average of 517.1 people per day tested positive for the new coronavirus (Covid-19) between 25 and 31 July, according to new figures by the Sciensano Public Health Institute published on Tuesday.

This represents an increase of 60% compared to the previous week.

The total number of confirmed cases in Belgium since the beginning of the pandemic is 70,314, compared to 69,849 on Sunday. The total reflects all people 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

2. In search of the invisible enemy: Brussels under lockdown

Belgium went into lockdown on 18 March 2020. For over two months, and in an unprecedented manner, public life came to a near standstill from one day to the other, while the invisible enemy exponentially claimed more victims every day. Read more.

3. Thousands of travellers have returned to Belgium from red zones

Thousands of people have travelled back to Belgium from red zones in recent days, according to data collected through the so-called Passenger Locator Form.

The Passenger Locator Form is a form that has been mandatory since Saturday for anyone entering Belgium after a stay of at least 48 hours abroad. The form gathers information on people’s stay and their means of transport. By Monday morning, authorities had already received more than 200,000 forms, according to Federal Public Health Service (FPS Public Health) spokesperson Vinciane Charlier.

Between 1,500 and 2,000 people a day arrived from red zones. Travel to red zones is not allowed, and people returning from them face a mandatory 14-day quarantine and have to take a coronavirus test.

Read More.

4. Over 200,000 returning travellers’ forms collected in four days

Hundreds of thousands of contact tracing forms for travellers returning to Belgium from abroad have already been collected since they were released only four days ago.

The Passenger Locator Form (PLF) was rolled out on Saturday and made mandatory for all returning travellers having spent more than 48 hours abroad.

Foreign nationals coming to Belgium for a period of more than 48 hours are also required to fill in the form, which collects passenger contact data to facilitate contact tracing procedures. Read more.

5. Extinct butterfly spotted in Belgium after 25-year absence

A small butterfly long thought to be extinct in Belgium, the Chestnut heath, was spotted at the end of June to the south of Entre-Sambre-et-Meuse in Wallonia, conservation association Natagora announced Tuesday.

This unexpected return was probably helped by the warm temperatures of recent years, the association explained, adding that under the correct conditions the species could re-establish itself permanently in Wallonia. Read More.

6. Belgium’s shortage of nurses is worsening

The shortage of people pursuing nursing professions is worsening in Belgium, Le Soir reports on Tuesday.

The shortage remains “a status quo at best” and is worsening at worst, according to Le Soir, as there is a low number of people enrolling in nursing studies and graduating, while there are 5,000 vacancies in Belgium, the Belgian Association of Nursing Practitioners (ACN) said.

The drop in enrolments in nursing studies can be linked to a reform of the degree in 2016 when the programme was lengthened from three to four years. This “has led to a 10% drop in enrolments,” according to the Federation of Francophone Students (FEF). Read more.

7. Employers not required to pay salary of staff quarantined after trip abroad

Employers in Belgium are not bound to paying the salary of employees who must quarantine after their return from an orange or a red colour-coded travel zone.

According to a labour lawyer’s analysis, an employer can rely on the national employment office, ONEM, to cover their quarantined employee’s salary.

“The employee will be covered by the ONEM for 70% of their salary up to a maximum amount of €2,754.76,” Carl Vander Espt, a lawyer specialised in labour laws, told La Libre.  Read more.

Jules Johnston
The Brussels Times

Latest news

World’s largest chocolate warehouse opens in Flanders
On Thursday, Barry Callebaut – the largest global chocolate processor and manufacturer – opened the world's largest chocolate warehouse in Lokeren, ...
Why Belgium is regulating sex work
After decades of confusing rules and hypocritical policy, Belgium is finally regulating sex work by removing prostitution from the criminal law. ...
Belgium in Brief: Equal Opportunity To Dance
There's a phrase where I'm from, more often said in jest nowadays, but it came to my mind this morning: "Ye dancin'?" (Are you dancing?), one ...
Farmer discovers cocaine in banana boxes bought in Brussels
A Flemish farmer who purchased boxes of bananas at the market in Brussels on Tuesday came home to discover large amounts of cocaine packed among the ...
Changes to speed cameras increase likelihood of a ticket
Changes to the way speed cameras work in Flanders and Wallonia will increase the likelihood of receiving a ticket when cars pass them above the ...
Nightlife testing centre opens in central Brussels on Friday
A new coronavirus testing centre set up by the Brussels By Night Federation will open on Place Poelaert in Brussels on Friday, aiming to administer ...
Covid Safe Ticket targeted by legal action
It is less than a week that the Covid Safe Ticket (CST) has been required to participate in many social activities such as entering bars or ...
Parliament demands a toilet plan for Brussels
The majority parties in the Brussels Parliament have drafted a resolution asking the government to tackle the lack of free, accessible and clean ...
Coronavirus: Average infections up by more than 50% from last week
Between 11 and 17 October, an average of 3,249 people were infected with Covid-19 every day in Belgium, according to figures from the Sciensano ...
Up to 100 km/h winds expected across Belgium on Wednesday night
Gusts of up to 100 km/h are expected across Belgium on Wednesday night, according to the Royal Meteorological Institute (RMI), which has issued a ...
Cycling traffic officially added to VRT’s traffic bulletin
Usually a list of updates for drivers on busy roads, traffic bulletins will now include the latest travel news for cyclists in Belgium, VRT announced ...
MEPs call for European strategy to protect workers from asbestos
Members of the European Parliament are calling on the Commission to create a strategy for removing all abestos from buildings in order to reduce the ...