Belgium in Brief: What Happens When The Holidaymakers Return ?
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Belgium in Brief: What Happens When The Holidaymakers Return ?

Just like that, the summer holidays are already seemingly coming to a close. It feels like only yesterday that Belgium was discussing the break, the end of the school year, and the potential for vacation.

Now, the topic at hand is what happens when people come back.

Belgian schoolkids are yet to start back, with the majority facing one more week of vacation time. An often quiet moment in Brussels, August is coming to a close with the return of people from various trips, drives, flights and escapes.

What this return spells for the coronavirus figures in the country remains unknown at this time, but reports out of Antwerp have already shown one likely trend. More testing.

In the coronavirus testing village in Antwerp, a record number of 450 people were tested on Sunday, which is twice as much as the previous daily record. The increase is mainly due to the fact that many people who have returned from their holidays in an orange travel zone were also able to get tested from Saturday. People falling in that category account for half of the tests that were carried out.

So, as we relax in our final week before the world returns to the (new) normal, let’s see the news you need to know.

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. Covid-19: Brussels numbers stabilise

The number of new coronavirus infections fell to a daily average of 493.3 between 14 and 20 August, according to the latest figures published Monday morning by Sciensano.

A similar decline had already been seen on Sunday. This is the eighth day in a row that the number of new positive cases has fallen below 500.

Belgium now counts 81,936 confirmed coronavirus cases, compared to 81,468 on Sunday.

For the first time in several days, the number in the Brussels region has stabilised, with 881 new cases between 14 and 20 August, or two more than a week earlier. Read More.

2. Marc Van Ranst threatened in Mechelen station

The local police of Mechelen-Willebroek opened an investigation on Sunday evening after threats were made against virologist Marc Van Ranst at Mechelen’s train station.

Van Ranst was at the Mechelen train station on Sunday when a man threatened him, calling him a “left-wing rat”. The virologist posted two photographs of the individual on Twitter. Read more.

3. Belgium’s biggest swingers club closes after reopening for three days

Belgian sex club Acanthus has announced it is once again closing its doors due to overwhelming success after reopening on Friday.

The biggest swingers club of Belgium, located 21 kilometres from the French border, started welcoming back couples and singles after closing for five months due to the pandemic. Last Friday, the club stated that patrons would not be obliged to keep distance or wear face masks during sexual activities.

In compliance with the safety measures, visitors did have to make a reservation and leave their contact information. Dancing was not allowed, and the club’s restaurant functioned like any other Belgian restaurant during the pandemic. Read more.

4. Cross-border couples protest ‘old-fashioned’ new rules in Brussels

On Sunday, some 50 people gathered in Brussels to protest against the latest coronavirus measures for couples in a long-distance relationship, as they believe they are old-fashioned and too strict.

The protestors gathered in front of the Federal Public Service for Home Affairs, following Prime Minister Wilmès’ announcement on Thursday that international couples in a “lasting” long-distance relationship would be allowed to travel to see each other from September, subject to some conditions.

However, the definition of what will be seen as a “lasting relationship” will still see a lot of couples falling by the wayside, according to the protestors.  Read more.

5. Coronavirus: new shopping rules apply from today

Rules preventing shopping in with other people will no longer apply from today after the latest measures from the National Security Council go into force.

The time limit on shopping has also been lifted.

While the relaxation of the one-person shopping rule applies country-wide, individual stores may still decide to stick to the past regulations or apply stricter rules in their shops. Read More.

6. Coronavirus: drones fly over Brussels food market to ‘better identify’ offenders

The Brussels-Midi police zone will deploy two drones in one of Brussels’ busiest food markets, which they said would allow them to better enforce coronavirus regulations.

The police said they will use the drones to check whether all visitors to the market were wearing a face mask and respecting social distancing guidelines in the Marché des Abattoirs, in the municipality of Anderlecht. Read more.

7. Coronavirus: over 23.2 million confirmed infections worldwide

At least 805,470 people have died worldwide from the results of the new coronavirus (Covid-19) since the World Health Organisation (WHO) Office in China reported the virus in late December, according to a tally done by AFP at 1:00 PM (Belgian time) on Sunday, based on official sources.

Over 23,263,670 people have been officially diagnosed in 196 countries and territories since the start of the pandemic, according to AFP, which said at least 14,686,200 people are considered recovered.  Read more.

Jules Johnston
The Brussels Times

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