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Belgium in Brief: The Flemish Condom Protest

Credit: Belga/Twitter/Flickr

In one of the stranger headlines of the past months – dominated by Covid and the government – the youth department of the Flemish rightwing N-VA party took to the streets of six Flemish student cities on Monday to protest against the potential new government.

Normal enough so far, but stay with me.

In an effort to underline their displeasure about the lack of a Flemish majority in the so-called Vivaldi government, N-VA’s youth decided to hand out condoms with an inscription saying “F*ck Vivaldi” to students in Kortrijk, Ghent, Brussels, Leuven, Hasselt and Antwerp.

“We are giving people something to protect them from something they did not ask for,” said youth president Viktor Rooseleer. “If Flanders is going to be screwed for four years, at least let us do it safely.” Get the rest of the story here.

This isn’t the first time that such comments have been thrown about by the party, with N-VA’s leader Bart De Wever making headlines last week after some “vulgar” comments about a day of turbulent government negotiations, in which it briefly seemed like Francophone liberals MR would not take part in the government after all.

“I think our blue friends (the liberals) will now have to get down on their knees, open their mouths and swallow,” said De Wever then, before adding that N-VA would “destroy” the government coalition in the opposition.

It’s been an interesting couple of weeks, and as we enter into the final stage of negotiations (probably?) who knows what’s next.

With that in mind, let’s get back to the 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’s rapid coronavirus infection rate grinds to a halt

An average of 1,540.7 people per day tested positive for the new coronavirus (Covid-19) in Belgium during the past week, according to the latest figures by Sciensano on Tuesday.

Over the 7-day period from 19 to 25 September, this is still an 11% increase compared to a week earlier, but the third consecutive decrease of new confirmed cases on a daily basis.

Additionally, 178.2 infections were confirmed per 100,000 inhabitants over the past two weeks, which is an increase of 122% compared to two weeks earlier. The number continues to increase, but the rate of increase is slowing, according to Sciensano. Read more.

2. … and the number of new Covid-19 infections in Brussels stabilises

© Belga

The number of new Covid-19 infections in Brussels Region is stagnating, according to provisional data from the Sciensano public health institute updated on Tuesday morning.

The Region currently counts 17,099 confirmed cases, out of a total 115,353 in Belgium, since the start of the pandemic. Read more.

3. … but the Netherlands now advises against all non-essential trips to Belgium

The Netherlands now considers all of Belgium an orange travel zone, meaning it advises against all non-essential trips to the country, according to the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The Dutch advice was adjusted to take account of the latest update to the rules that apply in Belgium, for visits from the Netherlands. Read more.

4. Wallonia launches thousands of €80 tourism vouchers

View of Dinant in Wallonia. Credit: jiuguangw/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Wallonia will issue thousands of tourists passes to be spent in a range of activities and attractions in the region to boost the industry after the coronavirus summer.

The passes will be each worth €80 and will be available to Belgian residents and non-residents alike in a scheme set to run throughout the winter. Read more.

5. Belgian government talks enter final hours… or days

The negotiators of the so-called Vivaldi coalition met on Tuesday at 9:00 AM to continue their talks for the formation of a federal government, with a conclusion expected today or in the coming days.

Last week, 486 days after a divisive election weekend in which Flanders voted overwhelmingly to the right and Wallonia voted to the left, politicians reached the formation stage, which is usually the last step before the forming of a full-fledged government. Read more.

6. Belgian court could rule on legality of fingerprint ID cards this year

The Constitutional Court may rule later this year on the constitutionality of the fingerprints on the electronic identity card (eID), said privacy activist and lawyer Matthias Dobbelaere-Welvaert on Monday, who has raised funds to bring the case to court.

The issuing of the new identity cards started at the beginning of the year. However, the Data Protection Authority (DPA) had issued a negative opinion on this measure put in place by former Interior Minister Jan Jambon. Read more.

7. Brussels City bans prostitution in effort to curb coronavirus cases

The City of Brussels has issued a ban on prostitution in order to curb the spread of the new coronavirus on its territory.

Decided on Monday evening, the ban will enter into effect immediately and remain in place until further notice.

The cabinet of Mayor Philippe Close said that the municipality imposed the ban in an effort to fight rising coronavirus infections. Read more.

Jules Johnston
The Brussels Times

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