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Belgium in Brief: Stricter Measures, But No Lockdown

Credit: Belga/ECDC

Today, Belgium’s Consultative Committee will gather at 2:00 PM to discuss the current situation in the country and to likely decide on stricter measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

The Consultative Committee has taken over the job of the National Security Council in the previous government. While there are some small political differences, both bodies mainly contain the same people. This makes gathering the National Security Council a “superfluous step,” according to the new government.

But what will they discuss?

As Prime Minister Alexander De Croo told the House on Thursday, “extra measures are necessary.”

The new rules will mainly focus on reducing the number of contacts allowed by tightening the rules for several sectors, such as restaurants.

The prevailing opinion, however, is that while Belgium is in for big chances – there’s a good chance that lockdown isn’t one of them.

Once we know what else will change, you’ll know too.

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. What’s on Belgium’s Consultative Committee’s agenda today?

Belgium’s Consultative Committee will gather at 2:00 PM to discuss the current situation in the country and likely take stricter measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Despite only having introduced new measures last week, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo will likely announce new rules today, as he told the House on Thursday that “necessary extra measures” would be taken “quickly.” Read more.

2. Belgium will not go into lockdown today, says Steven Van Gucht

Belgium will not announce another lockdown to stop the spread of the coronavirus in the country following the Consultative Committee meeting today, according to virologist Steven Van Gucht.

“A new lockdown will not be announced,” Van Gucht told The Brussels Times. “But the measures will definitely be tightened for several sectors.”

These stricter rules will be put in place “precisely to avoid another lockdown like the one in March,” he said. Read more.

3. Almost 2,000 coronavirus patients admitted to Belgian hospitals

The number of coronavirus patients in Belgian hospitals approaches 2,000, as daily infection figures continue to climb across the country, according to Sciensano’s latest figures on Friday.

Between 6 and 12 October, an average of 5,976.3 new people tested positive per day, which is an increase of 96% compared to the week before. On Monday, over 8,500 people tested positive for Covid-19 on the same day. Read more.

4. Only four countries show green zones on first EU corona-map

Norway and Finland are the only countries to show mostly green regions on the European Union’s first coronavirus map, which colours regions green, red or orange depending on the number of positive Covid-19 tests.

The map was published by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and contains information on “weekly COVID-19 testing rates” and a “14-day notification rate of new confirmed COVID-19 cases” on a regional level.

Belgium is coloured red in full, as are the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Luxembourg and France. Read more.

5. March 2016: Terrorists could count on ‘passive support’ of population

The terrorists who carried out the attacks at Brussels Airport and the Brussels metro in March 2016 were able to go about their business unhindered thanks to the “passive and active support” of many of the residents of the Brussels commune of Molenbeek, according to a new book.

The book, in Dutch, was written by Cyrille Fijnaut, a former professor of criminology at the universities of Leuven and Tilburg, and an expert on police and organised crime.

The book sets out to find out how the terrorists involved in the Brussels attacks, as well as the attacks in Paris the previous November, could have organised and carried out their crimes without being detected. Read more.

6. Huawei labelled as security threat to the EU’s 5G network

Chinese 5G vendors Huawei and ZTE have been labelled as “high risk” companies that could pose a security threat to European networks, 41 prominent Members of the European Parliament say.

The MEPs expressed their concerns in a letter addressed to EU Telecom, European trade ministers, and the European Commissioners for Trade (Valdis Dombrovskis), for the EU’s Internal Market (Thierry Breton), and for preparing the EU for the Digital Age (Margrethe Vestager). Read more.

7. Belgium’s Covid-19 situation ‘more serious’ than in France, Netherlands, health minister warns

Belgium’s coronavirus situation “is more serious than in France and the Netherlands,” said Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke.

“The time is ripe for action but not for improvisation,” added Vandenbroucke.

Referring to Friday’s consultation committee, he said he rejected “any policy of announcement effect,” specifying however that the measures that could be taken would respect certain objectives. Read more.

Jules Johnston & Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times

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