Share article:
Share article:

Belgium in Brief: Ok, What Just Changed?

Credit: Belga

First, to get it out the way, you may have noticed you got your newsletter a little late today, but there’s a good reason for that.

Just as we were all surprised by the changes to Belgium’s national coronavirus fighting measures last night, today brought more changes that we just had to include.

From Friday, Belgium’s newest rules as a country go into force, mimicking measures that have already been in place in Brussels for over a week. More on that here.

In Brussels however, the situation has developed beyond that. All bars in the Brussels-Capital Region are shutting down from Thursday as part of a new round of restrictions imposed by leaders in the Belgian capital as they race to quench flaring coronavirus cases. More on that here.

So as we delve into the news everyone saw coming but nobody expected, here’s a recap of what led us to this point, and what’s new.

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 tightens measures: bubbles shrink, bars close early

Belgium is once again tightening its coronavirus measures in the face of rising infections, hospital admissions, and deaths.

Speaking to the press following a Consultative Committee meeting, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo and Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke announced new measures, including shrinking bubbles and reduced hours for bars across the country.

“The situation is worrying and very serious,” said De Croo. “We can see that the spread of the virus is accelerating considerably. We need to stop that acceleration as soon as possible.” The new measures can be read here.

2. Coronavirus: Brussels shuts down bars from tomorrow

All bars in the Brussels-Capital Region are shutting down from Thursday as part of a new round of restrictions imposed by leaders in the Belgian capital as they race to quench flaring coronavirus cases.

The shutdown will come into force from 7:00 AM on 8 October and will also include cafes and the cafeterias of sports clubs, regardless of whether they serve alcohol or not, as well as party and event halls, in measures set to remain in place for at least a month. Read more.

3. ‘Brussels ‘on the edge of code red’, expert warns

Brussels is approaching a code red on the Covid-19 barometer, which is currently being developed, infectious diseases expert Erika Vlieghe told Radio 1 on Wednesday morning.

The barometer, announced by former Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès at the last National Security Council on 23 September, is still being developed. While the colours have been decided on, the measures that go along with each colour haven’t yet. Read more.

4. Belgium’s tightening of coronavirus measures ‘really necessary,’ Marc Van Ranst says

The snap tightening of measures to fight the coronavirus were necessary and are expected to yield results, top Belgian virologist Marc Van Ranst said.

Belgium on Tuesday announced stricter measures concerning social contacts and ordered bars and cafés to close down at 11:00 PM, in a nationwide expansion of a rule which up until now applied only in Brussels.

“The new measures were really necessary,” Van Ranst said. “Limiting social contacts to the family circle and the [measures] on the catering industry should have an impact.” Read more.

5. Cheatsheet: How the latest rule of 4 works

Following Tuesday’s announcement of the stricter coronavirus measures in Belgium, the Crisis Centre gave some tips on how people can safely receive the four guests they are now allowed to invite in their homes. Here’s what you need to know.

6. Belgium’s national rail moves to make its stations more accessible

Flemish public transport company De Lijn’s employees will go on a 24-hour strike this Friday to protest privatisation and potential lay-offs.

De Lijn operates buses, trams and light rail vehicles throughout Flanders’ larger cities, including Antwerp, Bruges, Ghent and Louvain. Read more.

7. Pandemic could hamper EU’s progress on reducing plastic waste

The current pandemic of Covid-19 could hamper or even reverse progress made in the EU to reduce plastic waste, a new report from the Court of Auditors of the EU has warned.

Together with other problems, the Court says, that means the EU is at risk of missing its targets for the recycling of plastic waste by 2025 and 2030.

In the process of updating its plastic waste strategy of 2018, the EU has set new targets for the proportion of plastic waste being recycled to 50% by 2025, and 55% by 2030. Read more.

Jules Johnston
The Brussels Times

Latest news

Contact tracers have no time for calls, only texts, amid rising cases
Contract tracers will no longer make phone calls to the high-risk contacts of people who test positive for the coronavirus beginning from Wednesday, ...
Belgium holds on to top spot in FIFA rankings despite recent losses
Once again, Belgium's Red Devils have held onto their position at the top of the world football rankings, according to an update released by the ...
Why the fight for transgender rights is polarising Europe 
Year after year, Samuel De Schepper would ask Santa Claus to bring him a penis for Christmas. Born female and attending an all girl’s Catholic ...
Proximus pushes for high-speed internet in Brussels and Wallonia
Fifteen municipalities in Wallonia should soon have access to high-speed internet through the rollout of fibre optics in the region, telecoms giant ...
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, ...
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 ...
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. ...
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 ...